The MS in Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) builds the skills you’ll need to address the diverse needs of children, youth, and families across multiple settings, including community-based organizations, schools, hospitals, advocacy organizations, residential treatment programs, out-of-school programs, and service agencies. This rigorous four-semester program blends challenging coursework with community-based practice making graduates stand out in the job field.
- Program Duration: 2 academic years (4 semesters)
- Time Commitment: Full-time or Part-time
- Term of Enrollment: Fall
- Course Requirements: 36 credits
- Format: With the exception of a few electives and online courses, ADP MS courses are offered in the evening.
- Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions; Child Life Priority is given to applications received by March 1.
- Admissions Requirements: GRE exam not required
Through a blend of research and professional practice training, students in this vital field acquire competencies and expertise in applying knowledge of development and evidence-based practices to address real-world problems in real-world settings. Applied developmentalists are experts in interdisciplinary collaboration; they use their knowledge of current research and evidence-based methods to design, implement, and evaluate innovative interventions and programs for children, youth and families; they emphasize principles of positive psychology to promote the success of all children and youth, especially those who are at developmental risk and/or have developmental/learning difficulties.
MS students may choose to concentrate in one of the following specialized areas of study and practice:
Applied Research Methods for Child and Youth-Serving Organizations (ARMO)
The Applied Research Methods for Child and Youth-Serving Organizations (ARMO) specialization focuses on training applied research practitioners who are able to produce relevant, useful research to evaluate and enhance key programs for child and youth development. Child and youth-serving organizations are increasingly expected to collect and analyze a variety of data in order to monitor outcomes, improve performance, and demonstrate effectiveness. Organizations that serve children and families, however, often are overworked and underfunded, making such data-oriented efforts burdensome. To meet the need of the child and youth-serving organizations, the ARMO specialization trains practitioners within a model of practical, applied research to evaluate program functioning, performance, and outcomes as well as to contribute to the overall knowledge.
Behavioral Health in Schools and Communities (BHSC)
The Behavioral Health in Schools and Communities (BHSC) specialization advocates improving access to and quality of care for families and children and youth with developmental, social-emotional, and behavioral difficulties. A BHSC specialization is appropriate for students interested in consultative and direct provision of behavioral health services, developmental services for children with disabilities, and program administration; BHSC specialists also emphasize policy-focused work, education, and advocacy. Students learn about emotional and behavioral disorders, evidence-based interventions and treatments for individuals and groups, program development, and use of resources and data to answer identified questions and provide necessary services. Upon completion of the program, students in this specialization meet all of the evidence-based coursework requirements for the PA Behavior Specialist License. Students may elect to also pursue the Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate (BCBA) with some additional planning and coursework. The BHSC specialization is not a clinically-focused curriculum; therefore, it does not prepare students to apply for professional psychology or counseling licensure or to work as professional, licensed counselors, therapists, school psychologists, or school counselors, either in public or private practice settings.
Children with Special Health Care Needs with Child Life option (CSHCN)
The Children with Special Health Care Needs (with Child Life option; CSHCN) specialization prepares students for direct work with families and children who have special health care needs in interdisciplinary settings such as children’s hospitals, transitional programs (i.e. “step down” programs), and community-based organizations. Increases in poverty and disability have resulted in increases in the prevalence of children who experience chronic healthcare conditions and needs. Students in the CSHCN specialization are trained in developmental healthcare prevention and intervention supports to meet children’s social, emotional, and behavioral needs in diverse health and allied health settings. Upon completion of the program, students interested in applying for the Child Life Certificate (overseen by the National Child Life Council) will: have met the expected coursework requirements. Candidates must apply and achieve a passing score on the national certification exam to gain the practice certificate.
Infant Mental Health (IMH)
The Infant Mental Health (IMH) specialization gives students the opportunity to gain specialized skills and knowledge for working with very young children (0 to 3-years of age) and their families as it pertains to the promotion, prevention, and intervention for optimal social-emotional developmental for children. The training will be aligned with the recently purchased IMH Competency Guidelines and will prepare IMH students to be “ready” for IMH Endorsement through the process to be determined by the state of Pennsylvania. Infant mental health is a growing field of study and practice. There are several potential employment opportunities within early childhood serving systems including; Home Visiting programs, Part C IDEA Early Intervention Providers, Child, Youth and Family workers, Early Care Educators, behavioral health providers (social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists), and more.
Out-of-School Learning (OSL)
The Out-of-School Learning (OSL) specialization is designed to prepare professional practitioners who promote the positive development of children and youth in a variety of out-of-school settings. Child and youth participation in organized activities outside of school has dramatically increased, which has stimulated growth in this emerging professional area. The OSL specialization includes a developmental-ecological perspective that emphasizes both child development and the impact of contexts on the developing individual. It is based on the idea that the growth of OSL activities provides a rich opportunity for creating and coordinating developmentally positive spaces.
The Master of Science degree requires 36 credits distributed as follows: Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) Core courses (18 credits), Specialization courses (12 credits), and Community-Based Practice Learning (with capstone project) courses (6 credits).
All full-time students in the 36-credit Master of Science (MS) program in Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) complete a common set (18 credits) of the core, foundational courses in their first year.
- PSYED 2503 - Development: Conception Through Early Childhood
- PSYED 2504 - Development: Middle Childhood/Adolescence
- PSYED 2510 - Assessment Of Children’s Development In Real-World Contexts
- PSYED 2530 - Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP): Professional Identity And Leadership
- PSYED 2542 - Evidence-Based Interventions In Real World Contexts I
- PSYED 2543 - Evidence-Based Interventions In Real World Contexts 2
(Other courses may be chosen based on specialization with advisor approval)
Choose 18.0 credits from the following courses:
In the second year of the program, students complete in-depth study and training in courses aligned with their chosen concentration/specialization area, as well as complete a community-based practice learning experience that consists of a field placement and development of the Master’s capstone project. ADP MS students presently may select from five concentrations; ARMO, BHSC, CHSCN. CYD, and IMH, or, they may design their own course of study with advisor approval. See the typical course offering by concentration below. ADP MS options include completion of the Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate, Study Abroad, and taking additional elective courses.
- PSYED 2018 - Statistics 1: Descriptive And Inferential Statistics
- PSYED 2113 - Developmental Psychopathology
- PSYED 2141 - Child And Youth Work 1 - Introduction
- IL 2505 - Autism: Characteristics And Interventions
- PSYED 2632 - Applied Research Design
- PSYED 2532 - Psychosocial Aspects Of Illness
- PSYED 2520 - Introduction To Counseling
- PSYED 2521 - Theory, Meaning And Practice Of Play And Activity
- PSYED 2349 - Child Life Practice In Hospitals
- PSYED 2524 - Behavioral Assessment And Intervention
- PSYED 2003 - Reflective Consultation
- PSYED 2005 - Infant Development
- PSYED 2006 - Infant Mental Health Interventions I
- PSYED 2007 - Foundations Of Infant Mental Health 1
The ADP MS program requires students to successfully complete a Capstone Project in the second year at a community-based site (we work with over 150 community partners!). Capstones vary greatly based on the student and community partner's interests and needs.
- 3.0 GPA
- Courses in Research methods and Developmental Psychology
- Experience working with children or adolescents
- Community-based program Administrators, Directors and Supervisors
- Developmental Specialists
- Child and Youth Advocate
- Home Visitors
- Behavior Specialist Consultants (BSCs)
- Youth Workers
- Child Life Specialists
- Behavioral Health Specialists
- Teachers with strong training in applied development
- Research Associates
- Faculty in Community and 4-year Colleges
- Child Protective Services
Master's Admissions Guidelines
To be considered for our master's programs, your admissions materials must include the following basic elements. Please visit the web page of your program of interest to see if there are additional program requirements.
- Applications are submitted through the Pitt Education Online Application Form
- There is a non-refundable application fee of $50 (USD) to be paid by credit card
- Your online application must include (a.) a Goal statement, (b.) your resume or curriculum vitae, and (c.) contact information for three academic or professional contacts to later be invited to provide letters of recommendation
- The instructions for your goal statement are as follows: "Please share your reasons for pursuing a degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, focusing on your long-term goals and how your academic program will help you achieve those goals. Include any aspects of your experience, skills, and background which may aid the admission committee in evaluating your fit for the program for which you are applying. Your goal statement should be a maximum of 750 words."
Need-Based Application Fee Waiver
Applicants may be eligible for a need-based application fee waiver due to:
- Pell eligibility within the last three years
- Recent participation in federal, state, or local programs that aid students from low-income families
- Qualification for public assistance
- Otherwise demonstrable financial hardship, including emergency expenses or unexpected medical bills
If you believe that you are eligible for a need-based fee waiver, please submit your request HERE. Our admissions staff will review your request, and reach back out to assist you in completing your application. The School of Education reserves the right to request any necessary documentation.
- Official transcripts from every institution previously attended can be sent to us electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to us at "School of Education Admissions and Enrollment Services, 5500 Posvar Hall, 230 South Bouquet Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260"
- Any courses that you took or degrees that you earned from the University of Pittsburgh after 2008 do not need to be sent. Our office can obtain these transcripts internally.
Additional Requirements for Teacher Preparation Programs Only
- For Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and MOSAIC applicants - Completion of Documentation of 30 hours of Education-Related Experience Form.
- For Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) applicants - Completion of our Online Transcript review.
- For Foreign Language Education applicants - Completion of an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) to be scheduled through the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL).
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