Graduate Program in Developmental Psychology

Program of Study

Students with interests in Developmental Psychology typically concentrate their course work and research on developmental issues. However, while most students may choose to focus primarily on developmental psychology, students have the option of combining developmental psychology with other areas of psychology if they wish. Flexibility in each student’s program allows for individual programs of study to be developed in consultation with area faculty. Students also may wish to combine the study of developmental psychology with work in other graduate programs within the Psychology Department or the University. This can be done by applying simultaneously to both the Developmental Psychology program and other program of interest.

Sample Program

First year    

    Fall Semester      

    • PSYC 604:  Advanced Psychological Statistics
    • PSYC 665:  Behavioral Development
    • PSYC 685:  Independent Study (thesis topic development)
    • PSYC 690:  Psychological Research

    Spring Semester

    • PSYC 606:  Experimental Design
    • PSYC 676:  Social Development
    • PSYC 685:  Independent Study
    • PSYC 690:  Psychological Research

    Summer

    • PSYC 685: Independent Study
    • Comprehensive examination preparation
    • Comprehensive examination in August

Second year      

    Fall Semester

    • Foundation course
    • Foundation course
    • PSYC 690: Psychological Research
    • PSYC 685: or 699: Independent Study or Thesis

    Spring Semester

    • PSYC 678: Cognitive Development
    • PSYC 690: Psychological Research
    • PSYC 699: Thesis

    Summer

    • PSYC 699: Thesis

Third Year     

    Fall Semester

    • Research tool course
    • PSYC 666: Adolescent Development
    • PSYC 690: Psychological Research
    • PSYC 699: Thesis

    Spring Semester

    • Research tool course
    • PSYC 690: Psychological Research
    • PSYC 699: Thesis
    • Completion of Master’s thesis

    Summer

    • PSYC 685: Independent Study

Fourth Year    

    Fall Semester

    • PSYC 645: Child Psychopathology or other elective
    • Elective
    • PSYC 685: Independent Study (for candidacy examination preparation)
    • PSYC 690: Psychological Research

    Spring Semester

    • PSYC 679X: Cultural Perspectives on Human Development
    • Elective
    • PSYC 685: Independent Study (for completion of candidacy examination)
    • PSYC 690: Psychological Research

    Summer

    • PSYC 799: Dissertation

Fifth Year  

    Fall Semester

    • PSYC 799: Dissertation

    Spring Semester

    • PSYC 799: Dissertation
    • Completion of dissertation

Students are encouraged to pursue secondary interests in psychology beyond the aforementioned set of courses through the selection of electives, both within and outside the department. Courses in statistics, computer methods, and advanced seminars in other areas of psychology are available for the pursuit of such individual interests.

Courses

The Developmental Psychology Program provides students with a broad background in major areas of psychology, including cognitive psychology, social psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and statistical methods, as well as a specific focus on psychological development, from infancy through adolescence.

Foundation Courses

Three courses from the following list are required.  Additional courses from this list may be taken as electives.

Psychology 601 - Fundamentals of Learning
Analysis of methodology, empirical findings, and theoretical attempts in the area of learning with emphasis on classical and instrumental conditioning.

PSYC 603 - Biopsychology
Selected review of current research concerned with biological and chemical bases of behavior.

PSYC 611 - Cognitive Psychology
Theories, issues, and research in fundamental areas of human cognition. Topics include human learning and memory, attention, concepts and categories, and knowledge representation.

PSYC 620 - Experimental Social Psychology
In-depth survey of topics of current interest in the study of social interaction. Emphasis on experimental approaches to the social behavior of humans, but developments in animal social experimentation also utilized. Topics include, but not necessarily limited to, attitudes and persuasion, conformity, social judgment, aggression, and interpersonal attraction.

PSYC 641 - Psychopathology
Evaluation of criteria, definitions, and classificatory schemes of psychopathology. Review of theoretical and empirical contributions to understanding the etiology and maintenance of behavior problems. Focus on conceptualizing behavior problems as deviation from normative behavior on a continuum from mental illness to mental health. Individual differences and cultural influences are stressed.

Developmental Psychology Courses

Required courses:

Psychology 665 – Behavioral Development
A survey of development from infancy through adolescence, this course provides an overview of theories, issues, and research concerning psychological development.  Topics include infant perception and cognition, the development of memory, executive function, reasoning, social cognition, infant-caregiver attachment, temperament, parental socialization, peer relationships, self-regulation, and gender differences in development.

Psychology 676 - Social-Personality Development
Development of social behavior and personality characteristics throughout the life-span with emphasis on the changes occurring throughout childhood. Topics include attachment, aggression, sex-role development, moral development, socialization processes, parent-child relations, peers and the impact of television, and social-class and cross-cultural comparisons.

Psychology 678 - Development of Cognition and Memory
Development of cognition from infancy through adolescence.  Topics include memory development in infancy and childhood, infant cognition, spatial ability, categorization, scientific reasoning, social cognition and theory of mind, and social and cultural influences on cognition.  

Psychology 671 – Studies in General Psychology:  Adolescent Development
Seminar covering theory and research in adolescent development.

Elective courses:  Elective courses relevant to developmental psychology may be taken in any department at Northern Illinois University, including Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sociology, Human Development and Family Studies, etc.  The list below is intended to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.

Psychology 679 - Cultural Perspectives on Human Development
Crosslisted as EPS 679 and ANTH 679X. Cultural perspectives on parenting, home-school relations, psychological development, and education. Case materials drawn from western and non-Western societies.

Communication Disorders 772 - Seminar in Language
Theories and research on speech and language acquisition from infant vocalizations to the decoding and encoding of abstract concepts; description, measurement, and analysis of normal and variant language patterns. May be repeated to a maximum of 15 semester hours, but only 6 semester hours may be applied to the master’s degree in communicative disorders.

Educational Psychology 501 - Psychological Foundations of Education
Psychology as it relates to and provides foundations for educational practice. Constructive analysis of the principal areas, theories, experimentation, and conclusions in psychology with focus on such topics as motivation, learning, thinking, problem solving, self-regulation and the social context.

Statistics and Research Methods Courses

Required courses:

Psychology 604 - Analysis of Variance and Hypothesis Testing in Psychological Research
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and hypothesis testing, including basic concepts of probability, normal distributions, sampling distributions and hypothesis testing; power; ANOVA for between-subjects, within-subjects or mixed models, post-hoc tests, and experimental designs to analyze means.

Psychology 606 - Correlation and Regression Analysis in Psychological Research
Correlation and regression analysis, including: bivariate and multiple regression, hierarchical and step-wise procedures; coding of categorical variables and the treatment of experimental designs, testing for mediation and moderation, aptitude-treatment interactions.

PSYC 690 - Psychological Research
Supervised research training in planning, design, execution, and analysis of psychological research. Required of all graduate students in psychology each semester prior to the approval of a dissertation proposal. May be repeated without limit, but may not be used to meet the minimum credit hour requirements for a graduate degree in psychology. S/U grading.

Elective courses:

Psychology 710 - Multivariate Data Analysis in Psychological Research
Introduction to conducting and interpreting multivariate analyses of psychological data using SPSS software. Specific topics to be covered include matrix algebra, the general linear model, screening and missing data, canonical correlation, principle components and exploratory factor analysis, MANOVA, discriminant function analysis, profile analysis, and multiway frequency analysis.

Psychology 712 - Structural Equation Modeling in Psychological Research
Hands-on introduction to the use of structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses in psychological research using current SEM software. Topics include an overview of the SEM analytic technique, introduction to matrix algebra, path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and the analysis of hybrid SEM models. More advanced topics such as multiple group and multi-trait multi-method (MTMM) analyses will also be covered.

Psychology 714 - Meta-Analysis in Psychological Research
Theory and techniques of meta-analysis and validity generalization applied to psychological data. Topics include accumulation of research results across studies, coding of research study characteristics for moderators, combination of statistical significance levels and effect sizes, focused and diffuse comparison of significance levels and effect sizes, and validity generalization and its techniques. Meta-analysis and validity generalization software (D-stat) will be used to complete a semester project.

Methods or statistics courses offered by other departments also may be included in students’ program of studies.