How Do I Go into Developmental Psychology?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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The developmental psychology career path typically involves graduating from high school or earning an equivalent diploma and then seeking a college degree in psychology, preferably with developmental biology as your major. You can start out by earning a bachelor's degree in preparation for this career, but many employers will expect you to hold a graduate degree instead. In most cases, you also will need an advanced degree if you want to go into private practice.

Breaking into developmental psychology typically requires a significant commitment to education. To start, you will most likely have to earn a high school or General Educational DevelopmentĀ® (GEDĀ®) diploma as your first step in this process. While in high school, you may do well to take challenging science and math courses in preparation for the rigors of your college education. Composition and public-speaking courses may help you prepare as well. In addition, such classes will help you build a foundation for your career, which will necessitate excellent verbal and written communication skills.


A college education generally is required when you want to get involved in development psychology. In most cases, you will need at least a bachelor's degree to get started in this career. Often, however, employers prefer job candidates who have graduate degrees in psychology. For example, if you earn a master's degree or doctor of philosophy (PhD) in psychology, you may have a better chance of landing the job you want. In many jurisdictions, you may also need a higher-level degree in order to go into developmental psychology as a private practitioner.

If you want to go into development psychology, you may do well to choose developmental psychology as your major rather than a general psychology major. You can choose this major as an undergraduate student or select a different major for your bachelor's degree and then choose developmental psychology as your major when you go on to earn a graduate-level degree. It is important to keep in mind, however, that you can typically begin a career in developmental psychology with another type of psychology degree, but choosing this specialty may make the transition from student to psychologist easier.

When you study developmental psychology in preparation for a career in this field, you will typically focus on human growth and development. In many cases, a degree program in this major focuses on development during childhood and then analyzes the effects of early development on a person as an adult. Your studies will typically cover changes in humans over an entire lifespan, including changes in thought patterns and behavior.



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