Human Development, Ph.D.: Program Admissions

Developmental Science
The Developmental Science specialization is designed to train students in the areas of social, cognitive, emotional, and biological aspects of human development. This specialization involves intensive research apprenticeships with faculty mentors, coursework in core courses and advanced seminars, and exposure to leaders in Developmental Science through the colloquia and professional development weekly seminar organized by the Center for Children, Relationships, and Culture, which is housed in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology.

The goal of the program is to train students for research careers in academic or applied areas of child development; graduates have obtained positions as university professors and research scientists. The program encourages engagement in collaborative research with faculty and students in a wide range of developmental science areas. In addition to coursework, students enroll in a one-credit weekly colloquia series and professional development seminar which hosts invited speakers from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan universities, institutes, and research "think tanks," as well as provides for professional development sessions on various topics such as conference preparations, dissertation projects, grant writing, and career options.

Specific topics investigated include peer relationships, parent-child relationships, attachment, emotional development, developmental neuroscience, social-cognitive development, moral judgment, motivation, social goals, intergroup attitudes and relationships, prejudice, linguistic development, play, cognitive development, parent-child discourse, father involvement, early childhood policy, civic engagement, and cultural influences on development.  

Educational Psychology
The Educational Psychology Specialization is a nationally-ranked and internationally-recognized program of study in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology. 

The goal of the Educational Psychology specialization is to train students in the processes involved in learning across the life span and competent functioning in educational settings. Based on a mentorship model, students work closely with faculty on research and scholarship. Specific topics of research include cognitive development, as it relates to language, mathematics, and reading, social and academic aspects of motivation and self-regulation, and parent, teacher and peer relationships as they relate to school success. Students take courses and advanced seminars on cognition, motivation, learning, language, social influences on learning, and cognitive neuroscience.  Advanced training in quantitative methods is also a specific focus of the specialization.

Educational psychology faculty and students meet bi-weekly as part of a research seminar series that focuses on the discussion of ongoing student and faculty research. The seminar also includes professional development topics such as how to publish and present research, grant writing, job search advice, and networking skills.  

While completing their Ph.D., graduate students are also able to pursue concentrations in quantitative methodology, as well as in interdisciplinary areas such as neuroscience and cognitive science and language science.


Admissions Deadlines
December 1, 2024 (Fall 2025 International)
December 1, 2024 (Fall 2025 Domestic)

UMD Graduate
School General

1) Statement of Purpose*:

“The goal of this essay is to get to know you as an individual and as a potential graduate student.” We recommend that this statement follow these guidelines, and include:

  • Your preparation and motivation for graduate study, including the academic, research, work, and/or personal experiences that prepare you for this graduate program.
  • Your research interests and how these interests fit with this graduate program, including identification of one or more potential faculty mentors because of the program’s strong research mentorship model.
  • How you will contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity within a scholarly community and demonstrate your persistence to undergo a rigorous academic program.  

2) Transcript(s)
3) TOEFL/IELTS/PTE (international graduate students)


1) Letters of Recommendation (3): Recommendation letters may come from professors, school administrators, supervisors, and/or any other person who can effectively comment on your potential for success in a research-based PhD program in Human Development with a focus on Developmental Science and Educational Psychology. We recommend that letters of recommendation be from those that know you/your work well and comment on what you have done so far.

2) Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (optional)**

3) CV/Resume

4) Open Response: In 200-300 words, describe your quantitative and/or analytical skills, knowledge, and prior experience. These may include college and/or AP level mathematics and statistics courses, experience with mathematical and/or statistical software packages, quantitative experience in past research activities, and/or work experience. The research-based Ph.D. program in Human Development is mathematically and statistically rigorous to facilitate students’ learning and use of advanced quantitative methodologies. Therefore, evidence of applicants’ quantitative proficiency is required. 

5) Writing Sample: Submit an article, report, or manuscript in which you were the primary author (e.g., peer-reviewed journal publication or conference presentation paper in which you were the primary author, or alternatively, a master’s or undergraduate thesis, or school report/literature review). We encourage you to submit something you have already written; though, you may write something new.

Program-Specific Optional:
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not considered as a criterion for admission into the program. GRE scores that are submitted are made available to potential faculty advisors.
  • All applicants are recommended to seek advice from a faculty mentor or academic advisor for how to construct a strong admissions application.
  • All applicants are strongly encouraged to contact a potential faculty member(s) in the department regarding their availability, fit, and interest in serving as a mentor in the graduate training program. Applicants may state that this contact was made in their application.

*All applicants should contact a potential faculty member(s) in the department regarding their availability,
fit, and interest in serving as a mentor prior to submitting their application. Please indicate a faculty
member of interest and if contact was made then applicants can state that this in their Statement of

**Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not considered as a criterion for admission into the
program. GRE scores that are submitted are made available to potential faculty advisors.

Students are required to submit all required documents before submitting their application:  Purpose Statement, recommendation letters, transcripts, GRE scores (optional) and TOEFL/IELTS/PTE for international graduate students. The Educational Testing Service is offering the GRE General Test online. Please visit here for more information:

The Graduate School Application portal,, can be used to apply to UMD and review the status of your application. Graduate faculty in the Academic Department you applied to will review your completed application for graduate admission.

Before applying to the program, it is recommended students reach out to the prospective faculty member with whom they would like to work. Faculty members are listed within the Associated Faculty tab.

Students are required to submit all required documents before submitting their application: CV and Purpose Statement, (3) recommendation letters, transcripts, GRE scores and TOEFL/IELTS/PTE for international graduate students. Due to COVID-19, the Educational Testing Service is temporarily offering the GRE General Test online.

The Graduate School's guide to International Admissions provides an overview on the application, review, and enrollment process for international students.

The Graduate School's list of Frequently Asked Questions is a helpful resource as you navigate the admissions process.

For other questions about the application process, or to check on the completion of your application, please contact:

Judy Foster, Coordinator of Graduate Admissions
Office of Student Services, College of Education
(301) 405-2359                  

Questions regarding application reviews and decision recommendations should be directed to the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology (HDQM). Please contact:

Jannitta Graham, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Human Development and Quantitative Methodology
(301) 405-8432

For undergraduate advising, Human Development minor inquiries should be sent to, Human Development major inquiries should be sent to, and for any general inquiries please contact You can also contact the Office of Student Services by calling (301) 405-2364.

For graduate advising in HDQM, please contact the graduate coordinator, Jannitta Graham at It is recommended but not required that students contact the faculty member with whom they are interested in working with before applying to the program. Faculty are listed within the Associated Faculty tab.

 For general information, please visit here: or email: Applicants should first reach out to a faculty member before applying to the program at