Human Development and Family Studies Ph.D. (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

G201B 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


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall only, Dec. 1.

Requirements Summary:

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

  • Make an ongoing and substantial contribution to the discipline by demonstrating accomplishments in research
  • Demonstrate advanced research skills
  • Demonstrate good citizenship in the academic community in the areas of research, teaching, service, and leadership
  • Demonstrate ethical and responsible conduct of research