Human Development and Family Studies M.A. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Human Development

Program Description

The program prepares students for careers in academic life, primarily in psychology, sociology, or human development; ; in research programs of governmental agencies at various levels; and in a range of programs in community agencies and private enterprise. It does not prepare students to be clinical psychologists, school psychologists, or family life counselors.

Students develop an individual program of study and research in consultation with their Special Committee, which is chaired by a member of the members Field of Human Development but may include faculty members from other fields. All students are required to complete at least two semesters of graduate-level training in statistics and one semester of teaching. The field also requires that students complete a predoctoral research project or master's degree before taking the Admission to Candidacy examination.

All students are expected to acquire a basic background in the behavioral sciences and to master a broad base of knowledge of human development in the context of family and society. Both the M.A. and the Ph.D. degree programs require a research thesis or dissertation.

For the Ph.D. degree, two semesters of graduate-level training in statistics and some teaching experience are required. The field also requires that candidates complete a predoctoral research project before taking the Admission to Candidacy examination. The Ph.D. program ordinarily takes four years to complete.

Research facilities:
There are a number of fully equipped laboratories directed by individual faculty members who are conducting observational and experimental studies of basic processes in development. Students may also become involved in research or demonstration projects in the Family Life Development Center (child maltreatment and families under stress) and the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center (adulthood and aging).

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-4661

G421C Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • aging and health
  • ecology of human development
  • family studies and the life course



Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, February 1; Spring, October 15

Requirements Summary:

  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam or IELTS Academic Exam for non-native English applicants
  • two recommendations
  • GRE general test (Encouraged but not required for 2021-2022 admissions cycle)

Most successful applicants have an undergraduate major in a social science field, but students of high ability may be admitted regardless of undergraduate background.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate readiness for PhD and other advanced studies by completing an empirical masters thesis
  • Learn advanced research skills
  • Demonstrate ethical and other professional skill development