Description of Six Areas of Focus
m.a. in applied developmental psychology
The Education Focus is designed to help students broaden and deepen their understanding of human development and of the interplay between individual development, educational systems and experiences, and broader societal forces. This focus area serves students who are currently or are preparing to become teachers, or to work with children or adults in educational settings in the U.S. or internationally. Students can focus on a particular developmental level (e.g., early childhood, primary, secondary, or adult). In addition to the core courses for the Master’s program, there are four course components in the Education Focus. The first will help to broaden students’ understanding of how educational services fit into broader society and best serve the needs of students. The second helps students understand the role and practice of the most common methods of assessment and evaluation used by educational systems. The third helps students deepen their educational practice skills within a chosen target area. Finally, two elective courses can be used to further hone in on individual interests.
Prevention and Promotion Focus
The Prevention and Promotion Focus is designed to help students gain an understanding of human development in context, of how policies or institutions may impede well-being, and of how programs, services, and communities can best promote and support healthy development among children, youth, and families. This focus area serves students who wish to work in human or social service programs, educational settings, or advocacy or policy institutions, both local and international, dedicated to improving and promoting healthy human development and functioning communities. Beyond the core course requirements for the Master’s program, there are four additional components in the Prevention and Promotion Focus. One component provides students with understanding and skills regarding mental health issues. A second provides expertise in promoting or evaluating community programs and collaborations. A third component is an applied internship, in which each student acquires a placement in a local service or advocacy organization, in combination with an academic course designed to place the internship experiences within the context of scholarship and theory. Finally, students more deeply explore individualized interests with two elective courses.
Community Psychology and Social Justice Focus
The Community Psychology and Social Justice Focus is designed to help students gain an understanding of human development in social and cultural context and the structural barriers – including poverty, racism, violations of human rights – to psychosocial well-being. This focus serves students who wish to work in human or social service programs in and with local, national, and international community contexts or in advocacy or policy institutions dedicated to improving and promoting healthy human development in redressing social inequalities. Beyond the core course requirements for the Master’s program, there are four additional components in the Community Psychology and Social Justice Focus. One component provides students with an understanding of and skills to recognize and serve the needs of individuals, families, and communities with psychological distress due to violations of human rights domestically and/or internationally. A second provides expertise in promoting or evaluating community psychology programs and collaborations. A third component introduces students to theory and praxis for social justice at the interface of psychology and community development, humanitarian aid, and human rights issues - locally, nationally, and internationally. Students are encouraged to take an applied internship, in which each student acquires a placement in a service agency, community-based organization or advocacy program or project, in combination with an academic course designed to place the internship experiences within the context of scholarship and theory. Finally, students can more deeply explore individualized interests with three elective courses.
The Research Focus is designed for students who wish to move directly into a research position (e.g., at a university, research institute, or other setting), or to best prepare for doctoral study in developmental or educational psychology. This focus area helps students gain empirical research skills and experiences, both through targeted coursework, and through collaborative research with program faculty through a research internship. Students also will complete a mentored research project for their final program requirement. Additional course requirements include an advanced doctoral-level course in which students gain enhanced knowledge of theoretical models and empirical evidence in a targeted arena of development. Finally, two elective courses can be used to further develop individual interests.
Early Childhood Focus
The Early Childhood Focus is designed for students who want to specialize in the development of children from ages 3 to 8 years. Students in this focus area may intend to work with children in a variety of settings or may choose to research policy and program initiatives related to young children. (Students who wish to become licensed teachers in early childhood should visit the Teacher Education / Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction Department page.*) Students in this focus area will study about how young children advance in cognitive and psychosocial development as well as how they learn in a variety of social contexts. This course of study includes learning about typical development as well as about the development of children with special needs. In addition to the core courses required in the Master’s program, students take three courses on early development and learning and can explore related interests in three elective courses.
The Individualized Focus is designed to provide students with depth and breadth of understanding in human development, while allowing optimal flexibility and choice in students’ chosen areas of expertise. In this focus area, students take the core required courses, and then work with their advisor to develop an individualized program of study for the remaining courses. A portion of these electives should be selected to provide expertise in a designated area; the remainder allow students to extend their interests and learning to additional related arenas. Students in this track have the flexibility to design a program that will serve a broad array of professional future goals. In the past, students have used this flexibility to move into law school, business school, childhood education, and a range of other professions.