Within the division of Human Development, the Developmental Sciences 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.  

The Developmental Science area is connected to the campus-wide Graduate Field Committee in Developmental Science, which sponsors key note talks from prominent developmental scientists, hosts a range of professional development activities, and funds graduate student organized one-day workshops on a developmental science topic.

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.