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Master's Degree Program

Human Development and Psychology

The program information below is for academic year 2020-2021. We are dedicated to helping you prepare for an impactful career in education by offering powerful learning experiences and field-based opportunities that will develop critical professional skills. We encourage you learn more about our reimagined Master's in Education.

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

The HDP program offers two strands, general and child advocacy. The general strand 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. 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. Students in either strand must complete a minimum of 32 credits in order to graduate. 

General Strand Requirements 

  • One course in Developmental Psychology (4 credits) 
  • One course in Research Methods and Data Analyses (4 credits) 
  • Two courses in Human Development and Psychology (8 credits)
  • One course in Human Development with a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (4 credits)
  • Electives (12+ credits), can be any course in the catalog including through cross-registration

Child Advocacy Strand Requirements 

  • Fall H387Y Seminar in Child Advocacy (4 credits) 
  • Spring H388Y Child Advocacy Internship (4 credits) 
  • One course in Research Methods and Data Analyses (4 credits) 
  • One course in child development/risk and resilience (4 credits) 
  • Two courses or modules related to systems that impact children and families (4-8 credits)
  • Electives (remaining credits)

See my.harvard for a complete list of courses. 

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.

FIRST PERSON: Teachers, Step Back and Listen

An eight-year veteran teacher realized she didn't know what her students needed — or what was meaningful for them — during online COVID learning

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.

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