The Applied Developmental Science Doctoral Program
The Applied Developmental Science Ph.D. program at Colorado State University offers graduate training in research and its applications to issues that affect the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities.
Students can enter the Applied Developmental Science program with a completed master’s degree or with a completed bachelor’s degree. Students entering with a bachelor’s will be required to complete a master’s in Human Development and Family Studies, with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy or Prevention Science.
- Graduate students receive training in theories and empirical research on human development and family sciences from a lifespan and ecological perspective. Students develop the research skills to conduct both basic and applied research on human development.
- Graduate students are given the opportunity to apply knowledge to real-world issues. Faculty and students are committed to translating research into evidence-based practice and finding psychological, interpersonal, and social solutions to current health challenges facing individuals, families, and communities.
- Students benefit from the perspectives of multiple disciplines and an understanding of the social and cultural contexts in which people develop. Collaborative and cross-disciplinary research is strongly valued.
- Students work closely with faculty mentors to pursue programs of research that are tailored to their individual interests and aspirations. Students become productive scholars in their own right and they are supported by our faculty to accomplish this goal. Scholarship is nurtured through intensive mentoring, seminars and colloquia, active research labs, and participation in professional meetings.
The majority of Ph.D. students are supported by teaching and research assistantships that cover tuition and provide a monthly stipend during the academic year.
If you are interested in our program, we recommend you contact our current graduate students and faculty. Feel free to ask them any questions regarding our graduate programs.
Course of Study
The Ph.D. is a 76 credit-hour degree, designed to be completed in a 4-year time frame (18-21 credits per year). All ADS students must take 22 credits in ADS-program-wide core courses; in addition, 24 credits are earned in elective courses that are selected in consultation with the student’s adviser and committee so as to prepare the student for the career trajectory that he or she has planned. These electives must include at least two lifespan development electives, one statistics elective (3 credits), and one general elective outside of Human Development and Family Studies (3 credits).
There are two competency projects and examinations designed to:
- Allow students to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their knowledge gained from their coursework in the ADS program and from reading in depth in the specific area on which they plan to focus their research efforts.
- Challenge students to think critically about and to apply, utilize, and integrate that knowledge in ways that foster their own professional development.
- Help them to independently develop a research plan that potentially will sustain their investigative efforts past their doctoral dissertation and into the early years of their career.
- Develop and enhance their teaching and presentation skills.
Research Writing Competency Project
For the research writing project, students demonstrate their ability to do an in-depth analysis of the literature in his/her area of research by writing: (a) grant application or (b) Developmental Review article or (c) an essay/paper in response to specific examination questions that have been prepared and approved by the student’s committee and have been approved by the ADS program director or Graduate Program director (or their delegate if both are on the student’s committee).
Professional Presentation/Teaching Competency
The goal of the professional presentation/teaching competency is to afford the student increased experience and skill in doing professional presentations and/or teaching by either: (a) teaching a series of workshops or, (b) working on two specific teaching-related skills while teaching at least ½ of an undergraduate course.
Doctoral Dissertation in Applied Developmental Science
Students in the Applied Developmental Science Ph.D. program are required to propose and complete an empirical doctoral research project approved by a doctoral committee and to write up the findings in a dissertation. The dissertation project represents the culmination of students’ ADS education and is a “process” that includes (a) the conceptualization of the study, including the scientific rationale and the study methodology; (b) proposing the study to a committee of faculty members; (c) collecting the data or using an existing data set; (d) conducting statistical analyses; (e) write the results either as a single thesis or as multiple manuscripts; and, (f) defend the results to the dissertation committee in an oral exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find research faculty to serve as my adviser/mentor?
Our faculty are committed to ensuring excellent training and professional growth for our students. Prospective ADS students can find HDFS faculty bios and research interest areas on the CSU HDFS website or search by departmental thematic research areas or laboratories. If you are interested in working with specific faculty members, please contact them directly to learn more about their research programs and funding opportunities. Students accepted to the program will have additional opportunities to discuss their research interests with faculty and find an appropriate mentor.
Students are accepted to the HDFS program, meaning they are not admitted by an individual faculty member to work in his or her lab. Rather, students have the opportunity to select one or more faculty mentors that meets their training needs. Students may also change mentors if their interests or training needs change.
When accepted, students are matched with a “temporary” mentor. By the end of the first year, students will formally select a research mentor.
How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. program?
The program typically takes four to six years to complete. Students entering with a research-based Master’s thesis and who test out of certain courses may complete the program in less time.
What type of training is involved in the Ph.D. program?
The Ph.D. program is a 76 credit-hour degree, which involves graduate coursework in advanced research methodology and specialized topics; competency projects in research/writing and teaching/professional presentations; as well as a dissertation project.
What kinds of jobs do your Ph.D.s normally get after graduation? What are my career opportunities in this field?
Our graduates have gone on to various exciting careers, including: university faculty members; research scientists in academic centers or government agencies; and program evaluators and policy analysts with nonprofit organizations. ADS students develop research skills in applied research methodology, advanced data analysis, program development, implementation and evaluation, scientific writing and presentation skills, and critical thinking and problem-solving in a real-world context that facilitate access to and success in diverse career positions