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Master's Degree Program

Program: Human Development and Education

The Human Development and Education (HDE) Program prepares you to support the unique needs and growth of all learners — whether you are interested in exploring a direct service role, starting a nonprofit organization, engaging in clinical or counseling work, or pursuing doctoral research. By linking theories and pioneering research with practice and policy about child, adolescent, and adult development, you will have opportunities to examine different developmental domains — including cognitive, emotional, social, moral, and neurological — as well as design strategies and interventions to promote healthy development. The application for fall 2022 admission to HGSE’s Ed.M. programs is open.


"We know much about the science of human development, but we are just beginning to figure out how to communicate and enact it to actually better the world. Our program helps our students gain a deeper understanding of learning and growth across diverse contexts, as they explore their professional roles in supporting human development for children, families, and communities."

Junlei Li, Faculty Co-Chair

After completing the HDE Program, you will have a deeper understanding of the following competencies that explore how:  

  • Learning and development are lifelong processes, with a predictable sequence at the population level and significant variation at the individual level  
  • Learning and development are active and interactive, driven by maturity and experience levels  
  • Ecological factors — including families, teachers, schools, communities, neighborhoods, and culture — influence learning and development  
  • Evaluation of evidence and research from human developmental science can inform effective change strategies to lead, design, and implement intervention, prevention, and support efforts  
  • Engagement in continuous learning can emerge from reflective practice, community involvement, and evaluation of intervention, prevention, and support efforts    

Curriculum Information

The HDE Program is designed to help you gain the knowledge and skills essential to promoting healthy development for all learners. A minimum of 42 credits are required to graduate with an Ed.M. degree from HGSE.

The main elements of the 2022–23 academic year are: 

  • The summer Foundations courses (12 credits), including How People Learn, Leading Change, Evidence, and Equity and Opportunity, in which students gain core skills central to the profession of education. 
  • To fulfill the program requirement, students must take a minimum of 12 credits specific to HDE, including the following:
    • The HDE Program Core Experience (4 credits), in this yearlong course, you will gain critical knowledge about human development in contexts that include parents, families, communities, K–12 schools, and higher education. You will learn practical skills and strategies that allow you to apply these insights to a variety of professional environments. The experience provides the opportunity to discuss your own field-based work and reflect on professional goals through participation in peer-advisory groups. Students must enroll in their first fall semester. 
    • Research methods and applied professional skills courses (4 credits), you will choose from a list of qualitative, quantitative, and skills-based courses. Course subject matter may include statistics and data science in education and organizations, participatory action research for educational justice, and ethnographic methods. 
    • Human development, age/context/domain-specific courses (4 credits), tailor your coursework to your chosen career pathway by selecting from a rich and diverse set of courses that deepen your knowledge in a specific age category, context, or domain. Course subject matter may include early childhood development, developmental psychology, preventative and developmental group counseling, college student development, or language and literacy development. 
  • The remaining credits are taken via elective coursework, which includes the opportunity to specialize in a Concentration

Explore our course catalog.
Note, all information and courses are subject to change.

School Counseling Strand

Students can get licensed as a school counselor by taking two years of sequenced coursework and fieldwork through our School Counseling Licensure Pathway. Year one consists of pursuing and Ed.M. in the HDE Program and our School Counseling Strand, which resumes in academic year 2022–23. The School Counseling Strand provides a pathway to Massachusetts licensure in school counseling and prepares K–12 school-based counselors-in-training with the skills necessary to promote positive, healthy academic and social emotional development with an emphasis on prevention and social justice.

Year two consists of our Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling program, which allows students to pursue Massachusetts initial licensure as a school counselor. Through this curricular sequence and field-based placement, graduates will be prepared to enter K–12 schools as counselors, leaders, and advocates. This program will resume in academic year 2023–24.

Career Pathways

The HDE Program prepares you for a variety of career pathways, including: 

  • School counselor (K–12)   
  • Teacher
  • Curricula developer
  • College or university administrator   
  • Afterschool program, camp, or youth organization director  
  • Researcher (university centers, nonprofit/for-profit think tank)  
  • Local, state, or federal government program administrator  
  • Field-staff or program manager at domestic or international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) 
  • Consultant, trainer, facilitator, technical assistance provider 


Supporting the unique needs of learners is a critical element of our Human Development and Education Program. HGSE’s curriculum offers you the opportunity to gain the insights and preparation you need to promote social-emotional growth. Here are examples of the work our graduates are doing around child, adolescent, and adult development: 

Legal Matters Do Matter

Recent graduate Ayesha Cotton helps families overcome legal obstacles at her school.

Afghanistan map

Q+ A: Janhvi Kanoria, Ed.M.’10

Alum pivots quickly to help Afghan refugees fleeing to Qatar continue their learning.

Cohort and Community

You will join an extraordinary cohort of students representing a rich diversity of personal and professional backgrounds. As an HDE student, you will engage in events and professional development opportunities that build community — including discussions about career pathways, conversations with faculty members about their research interests, and other community events. You will find that your cohort members exhibit energy, curiosity, and compassion, as well as a common commitment to understanding the deepest puzzles of development and addressing the greatest practical challenges. This community results in an exhilarating learning environment that forms the basis for lifelong friendships and long-term professional networks.

The application for admission to HGSE’s Ed.M. programs for the 2022-2023 academic year is open.

Admissions Information

Learn more about our admissions application requirements and instructionstuition and financial aidrecorded webinarsdownload a brochure, and find answers to frequently asked questions.

Connect with Admissions

If you have additional admissions-related questions, please contact Leah Amos.

Additional HDE Resources

Connect with Program Staff

If you have remaining program-specific questions, please contact HDE Assistant Director Mandy Farhoodi-Moberger.