The Human Development Program focuses on studies of developmental changes in social behaviors, social cognitions, and social relationships and how such changes are related to, caused by, or predictive of features of cognitive, emotional, motivational, neuropsychological, and psychopathological development. Specializations within the department include the following.

Educational Psychology: The faculty in the Educational Psychology Specialization focus on the processes involved in learning across the lifespan. Themes include cognitive development focusing on language, mathematics, and reading. There are significant strengths in language learning, bi-lingualism, and cognitive neuroscience of reading.

Developmental Science: The faculty in the Developmental Science Specialization focus on the processes involved in social and cognitive development across the lifespan. Themes include the importance of early experience on brain and behavior, the importance of peer relationships, moral reasoning, research on families and the influence of socio-economic status on children's development.

Current HD Faculty

Patricia Alexander

Patricia Alexander

Distinguished University Professor / 3304F Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2821

Research Areas: Domain-specific learning; Epistemic beliefs; Text-based learning; Interplay of knowledge, strategies, and motivation in academic development, relational reasoning

Lab Website

Donald J. Bolger

Donald Bolger

Associate Professor / 3304N  Benjamin Building / (301) 405-9103

Research Areas: How the brain learns to read; Sources of reading skill and impairment; How children learn the meaning of words

Lab Website

Lucas Butler

Lucas Butler

Associate Professor / 3304P Benjamin Building / (301) 314-1815

Research Areas: Social learning, social cognition, and cognitive development in early childhood. How children's early learning is fundamentally shaped by the social context in which it occurs.

Lab Website

Natasha Cabrera

Professor / 3304E Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2827

Research Areas: Parenting and children's cognitive and social development; Parent involvement in schools and children's achievement; Cultural and ethnic differences in parenting behaviors and children's outcomes

Lab Website

Kevin Dunbar

Professor / 3304K Benjamin Building / (301) 405-7233

Research Areas: Creativity, Development of Reasoning, Analogy, Educational neuroscience, Relational reasoning, Science education, Learning, Development of Scientific Thinking, Causal Reasoning, Inductive reasoning, fNIRS, Problem solving, Hypothesis testing strategies, attention, 21st century Learning, In vivo reasoning, Cognitive Neuroscience, Genetics of thought

Lab Website

Nathan Fox

Nathan Fox

Distinguished University Professor / 3304D Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2816

Research Areas: Temperament; Development of emotion and emotion regulation; Developmental psychophysiology, infant cognitive/social development

Lab Website


Melanie Killen

Professor; Program Director / 3304B Benjamin Building / (301) 405-3176

Research Areas: Social and moral reasoning; The emergence of morality in the context of intergroup relationships; The origins of prejudice and bias in childhood; Social exclusion and inclusion in peer relationships; intergroup attitudes on children's moral judgments about fairness and equality; theory of mind and morality

Lab Website

Elisa Klein

Associate Professor / 1117F Benjamin Building / (301) 405-3122

Research Areas: Social development; Peer interactions, relationships, and groups; Parenting and parent- child relationships; Social Withdrawal; Developmental psychopathology; Culture and cross-cultural comparisons

Lab Website

Lombardi Head Shot

Doug Lombardi

Associate Professor / 3304T Benjamin Building / (301) 405-3604

Research Areas: Facilitating thinking and reasoning in classroom contexts. Promoting understanding and conceptual change of socio-scientific topics through increased engagement.

Lab Website

Kelly Mix

Professor / 3304M Benjamin Building / (301) 405-5914

Research Areas: Development of mathematics and number concepts; Early childhood; Symbol-referent mappings; Spatial skills and mathematics; Elementary mathematics instruction.

Lab Website

Richard Prather

Richard Prather

Associate Professor / 3304S Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2806

Research Areas: Children's development with a focus on cognitive development involved in learning mathematics; Research involves lab and classroom based behavioral studies, along with computational modeling of the neural basis of behavior

Lab Website

Geetha Ramani

Geetha Ramani

Associate Professor / 3304R Benjamin Building / (301) 405-8777

Research Areas: Influence of social interactions on young children's cognitive development; Learning through cooperative play and activities; Early mathematics and problem-solving skills; Development and correlates of peer cooperation

Lab Website

Rachel Romeo Headshot

Rachel Romeo

Assistant Professor / 3304Q Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2809

Research Areas: Brain development from infancy through adolescence; language and literacy development; socioeconomic status and early adversity; the role of early experiences on neurocognitive development; equity in education and learning

Lab Website

Dr. Christy Tirrell-Corbin

Christy Tirrell-Corbin

Clinical Professor / 3304 Benjamin Building / (301) 405-7793

Research Areas: Trauma sensitive pedagogy, early childhood policy, culturally responsive and respectful curricula/pedagogy, project-based learning for young children and teacher education.

Lab Website

Min Wang

Min Wang

Professor / 3304C Benjamin Building / (301) 405-8798

Research Areas: Language and reading acquisition; cross language and writing system comparisons; second language/bilingual literacy development

Lab Website

Emeritus Faculty

Brenda Jones Harden

Brenda Jones Harden

Professor Emerita

Research Interests: Early childhood policy; developmental & mental health of young children at environmental risk; preventing maladaptive outcomes; early care & education; home visiting services; parenting interventions; infant mental health programs

Lab Website

Judith Torney-Purta

Professor Emerita / 3304S Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2806

Research Interests: social/political cognition, civic education cross-nationally, cross-cultural and inter-cultural studies, research related to social policy, Interaction in technology-rich environments, social studies and history learning. 

Ken Rubin

Kenneth Rubin

Professor Emeritus / 1108 Benjamin Building / (301) 405-0458

Research Interests: social development, Developmental Psychopathology, peer relationships, parenting and parent-child relationships, culture

Kathryn Wentzel

Professor Emerita / 3304A Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2810

Research Interests: Social and academic motivation at school, peer relationships and school adjustment, teacher-student relationships, goal setting and self-regulation, prosocial behavior.

Allan Wigfield

Professor Emeritus / 3304Q Benjamin Building / (301) 405-2809

Research Interests: Development and socialization of motivation and gender differences, achievement motivation, self-regulation and learning, motivation for literacy, motivation interventions


Current Graduate Students


Victoria Alexander / 1st year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Kelly Mix

Undergrad Institution: The University of Central Florida

Research Interests: My research interests center around identifying ways students, especially those from underrepresented populations, can use the arts to strengthen cognitive processes necessary in mathematical learning.

Lab Website


Angelica Alonso / 3rd year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Natasha Cabrera

Undergrad Institution: New York University

Research Interests: My research focuses on how Latino parents promote their young children's socioemotional development, particularly their emotional competence and self-regulation. I am also interested in identifying protective factors among Latino families that can be used to promote family well-being.

Lab Website


Jenna Alton Headshot

Jenna Alton / 3rd year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Lucas Payne Butler

Undergrad Institution: St. John's College

Research Interests: I study how children make evaluative judgements across social groups, and how empirical evidence may influence the process by which children make judgements such as stereotyping.

Lab Website

Tina Chen Headshot

Yu (Tina) Chen / 4th year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Natasha Cabrera

Undergrad Institution: Grinnell College

Research Interests: My research focuses on how parent-child interactions and early home environment shape children's developmental trajectories and outcomes. She is particularly interested in how mothers and fathers from diverse cultural and SES backgrounds communicate and interact with their young children and the impact of their language input on children's language and cognitive outcomes. Tina also utilizes nationally representative datasets to explore the variability in children's early experiences at home and its relation to later developmental outcomes.

Lab Website


Mary DePascale / 5th year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Geetha Ramani

Undergrad Institution: Wesleyan University

Research Interests: My research focuses on the roles of parent-child interactions, child engagement, and play-based learning in children's early math development.

Lab Website


Jannah Fusenig / 3rd year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Patricia Alexander

Undergrad Institution: California State University, Chico

Research Interests: Jannah's research focuses on multimedia learning, or the study of how we learn from both text and pictures. More specifically, she is interested in understanding the influence of pictures on students' ability to learn from textbooks.


Nancy Gans Headshot

Nancy Gans / 1st year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Drs. Doug Lombardi & Patricia Alexander

Undergrad Institution: The Ohio State University

Research Interests: Nancy's interests include: Cognition and motivation of elementary-aged students, Socio-cultural learning in diverse communities, & Epistemic cognition and critical analytic thinking in younger students and teachers

Lab &

Rachel Ghosh Headshot

Rachel Ghosh / 3rd year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Natasha Cabrera

Undergrad Institution: University of Michigan

Research Interests: My research interests include fathering and father-child relationships - as it pertains to early childhood development, especially among low-income, ethnic minority families. I am also interested in parenting or family interventions and protective factors that promote the well-being of children in single-mother families.

Lab Website


Jacquelyn Glidden Headshot

Jacquelyn Glidden / 4th year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Melanie Killen

Undergrad Institution: Bucknell University

Research Interests: I am interested in the cognitive factors underlying children’s intergroup interactions. In one of my current projects, I am investigating the role of morally-relevant theory of mind in children’s judgments and evaluations of gender-based resource inequalities. In a second project, I look at the ways that theory of mind and perspective taking skills underlie children’s intergroup conflict resolution processes, such as the ways children cooperate, negotiate, and compromise with ingroup and outgroup members.



Raychel Gordon Headshot

Raychel Gordon / 4th year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Geetha Ramani

Undergrad Institution: Boston University

Research Interests: I study how children's early math knowledge relates to their use of and exposure to gesture, as well as other domain-general factors (such as executive function). Additionally, I'm interested in how each of these may vary based on context, such as in a playful, game-based math environment, or more formal, school-based educational setting.

Lab Website

Gillian Grose Headshot

Gillian Grose / 2nd year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Geetha Ramani

Undergrad Institution: Cornell University

Research Interests: My research focuses on how parent-child interactions and beliefs about math can impact children's early math learning. I am also interested in intervention work that aims to make math more accessible.

Lab Website


Joshua Jaffe / 3rd year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. DJ Bolger

Undergrad Institution: Binghamton University

Research Interests: My research focuses on how linguistic processing affects numerical processing through word problems

Lab Website


Elise Kaufman Headshot

Elise Kaufman / 1st year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Melanie Killen

Undergrad Institution: Vanderbilt University

Research Interests: Interested in children and adolescent social and moral development in the classroom, how teachers affect these processes, how children think about teacher bias


Karen Levush Headshot

Karen C. Levush / 4th year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Lucas Payne Butler

Undergrad Institution: Towson University

Research Interests: I am interested in how children’s naïve epistemology is integrated with and affected by their developing understanding of the social world.

Lab Website


S. Alexa McDorman / 2nd year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Rachel Romeo

Undergrad Institution: William & Mary

Research Interests: Early childhood risk and protective systems among low-income families; informing strengths-based intervention.

Lab Website

Josh Medrano

Josh Medrano / 3rd year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Richard Prather

Undergrad Institution: The Ohio State University

Research Interests: My research focuses on roles that cognitive processes (e.g., executive functions) and other factors (e.g., environment) play in acquiring mathematical skills.


Julianne van Meerten Headshot

Julianne E. van Meerten / 4th year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Patricia Alexander

Undergrad Institution: University College Roosevelt

Research Interests: Julianne's research interests are undergraduate students' academic writing ability and their use of multiple sources; additionally, she focuses on student-centered learning environments and teaching


Laura Jimenez Parra Headshot

Laura Jimenez Parra / 6th year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Brenda Jones Harden

Undergrad Institution: Catholic University of America

Research Interests: applied research; social and emotional development of young Latino children; design and evaluation of programs that enhance the well-being of young children

Lab Website

Kate Luken Raz Headshot

Kate Luken Raz / 2nd year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Melanie Killen

Undergrad Institution: University of Washington

Research Interests: Children’s moral development, children's understanding of equality and equity, intergroup inclusion and exclusion, as well as cross-race and cross-wealth friendships in childhood.



Jinglei Ren

Jinglei Ren / 2nd year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Min Wang

Undergrad Institution: University of Waterloo

Research Interests: Jinglei's research interests are in statistical learning, language acquisition and reading

Lab Website

Eric Schoute Headshot

Eric C. Schoute / 4th year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Patricia Alexander

Undergrad Institution: University College Roosevelt

Research Interests: Eric's research interests are in critical analytic thinking, reasoning, multiple source evaluation and use, and student motivation



Riley Sims Headshot

Riley N. Sims / 5th year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Melanie Killen

Undergrad Institution: University of California, Davis

Research Interests: Broadly, I study children’s understanding of fairness in intergroup contexts. More specifically, I'm interested in children’s resource allocation and inclusion and exclusion decisions, bystander behavior, attributions of intentionality, and considerations of merit in intergroup contexts (with a particular emphasis on those involving gender group membership).


Anisha Signh Headshot

Anisha Singh / 6th year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Patricia Alexander

Undergrad Institution: Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi

Research Interests: Anisha graduated with a master’s degree in English from the University of Delhi, India. She then moved to the United States and completed a second Masters in International Education from George Washington University before starting her PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on reading across different media (with a special interest in audiobooks), multiple source use in online environments, and the effects of multilingualism in digital communication.


Kathryn Yee Headshot

Kathryn Yee / 4th year / Dev Sci

Advisor: Dr. Melanie Killen

Undergrad Institution: New York University

Research Interests: My research focuses on how children think about social groups, their perceptions of inequality and social mobility, and the implications for intergroup behavior and reasoning.


Nan Zhang Headshot

Nan Zhang / 3rd year / Ed Psych

Advisor: Dr. Min Wang

Undergrad Institution: Beijing Normal University

Research Interests: My research focuses on second language acquisition and processing in adults, especially the word reading and spelling.

Lab Website




There are two areas for specialization within the Human Development program: Developmental Science or Educational Psychology.

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.

The doctoral program provides students with core courses and research experience relevant to the social, cognitive, affective, linguistic and neurophysiological aspects of human development from birth through adulthood. Core courses include: History and Systems of Human Development, Language Development, Cognitive Development and Learning, Social Development and Socialization Processes, Psychophysiological Processes, and Research Methods; students also are required to master intermediate-level statistics.

Students also receive close mentoring in developing their research capabilities and agendas through Research Apprenticeship experiences. As part of this apprenticeship experience, all Ph.D. students are required to complete a first-year research project. Students in the general program are welcome to participate in the colloquium series offered by the Developmental Science and Educational Psychology specializations. The required comprehensive examination consists of a portfolio of the student's research reviewed by three faculty members.

Please refer to the  for more information on program requirements.

Take advantage of research opportunities offered through the labs and centers affiliated with the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology (HDQM) at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Academic advisement for graduate students is provided by the graduate faculty in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology (HDQM). For general advising information, please contact the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Jannitta Graham at (301) 405-8432 or

Graduate Policy
Graduate students in the College of Education are responsible for meeting University and the Graduate School policy, and for meeting Program requirements. The Graduate Catalog  is the official listing of Policies governing graduate education at the University of Maryland. The schedule adjustment policy is available from the Office of the Registrar and provides information on adding and dropping courses, penalties, and refund schedules.

Handbooks and Guidelines
The program handbooks provide information about the Masters and Doctoral programs. The handbooks cover topics such as overviews of the programs, milestones, and course requirements.

Graduate students must submit various forms at specific points as required by the Human Development program and as part of the Graduate School process. The Graduate School offers university-level forms, and the College of Education offers college-level forms. To determine the form required by the Human Development program, please refer to the Graduate Student Handbooks.

Templates and Formatting Guidelines for Thesis and Dissertation 
Dissertations are to be submitted to the Graduate School in electronic format after final approval of the dissertation by the Dissertation Examining Committee.  The University of Maryland Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) website or the University of Maryland Thesis and Dissertation Style Guide include details of this process.

Dissertations submitted to the University through the ETD process will also be deposited in the UM Library's online electronic archive, DRUM (Digital Repository at the University of Maryland). This is a free public archive of academic work by University faculty and graduate students.

Study Fellowships and Awards
A variety of fellowships and awards are available to prospective and current graduate students. Opportunities to apply for these awards are announced through the University, the College of Education, and the Department.

Developmental Science

The Developmental Science area in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology uses a mentorship model for graduate training. Students interested in the Developmental Science specialization must contact a faculty member with whom they would like to work during their graduate training. This is essential information for the graduate application and should be clearly designate in the Statement of Purpose as part of the application process.

Educational Psychology:

Students interested in the  Educational Psychology specialization must contact a faculty member with whom they would like to work during their graduate training. This is essential information for the graduate application and should be clearly designate in the Statement of Purpose as part of the application process.

Master of Education in Human Development Off-Campus program:
Please view the Program Handbook for information on the off-campus program. Contact Lauren Trakhman, Program Director, at or Ms. Jannitta Graham, HDQM Graduate Coordinator, at for further assistance.

General Overview:

Program Code:     EDHD
Degree: M.A., M.Ed., and Ph.D.
School:  Education
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)

Program-Specific Requirements:

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) 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 PhD 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.

3) 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.
M.A./M.Ed. On-Campus
Application Deadlines:

December 8, 2021 (Fall only, domestic)
December 1, 2021 (Fall only, international)

M.Ed. Off-Campus
Application Deadline:
June 1, 2021 (Fall)
Ph.D. Application
December 8, 2021 (Fall only, domestic)
December 1, 2021 (Fall only, international)

* Please note: EDHD requires all applicants to submit official transcripts (hard copies) to: University of Maryland, College Park, Enrollment Services Operation/Graduate Admissions, Room 0130 Mitchell Building, College Park, MD 20742.
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 studentsDue to COVID-19, the Educational Testing Service is temporarily offering the GRE General Test online. Should students wish for their GRE scores to be considered, please visit the GRE testing site directly.

Master's Cohort/Human Development (MCHD) Off-Campus Program

The department offers an on- and off-campus program. To ensure you apply for the off-campus program, once you arrive to the “Educational Intent” section of the application:

  1. For area of intent, please select for the degree: Masters, then Human Dev. M.Ed., then select term (i.e., Fall '21).
  2. Then, in area of interest, please select Masters in Human Development (off-campus).

If you need additional assistance, please contact Jannitta Graham at or (301) 405-8432.


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

Stay up-to-date on the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology with the College of Education's News and Events.