Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology

We prepare graduate students to serve diverse populations in a variety of professional roles as teachers and researchers in colleges and universities and as researchers and leaders in applied settings, including schools, government agencies, and health and human services organizations.  Faculty situate their work within the mission of the Lynch School, which is to improve human well-being through teaching, research, and service.

The focus of the Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology Program is on development and learning in sociocultural context. Areas of program expertise within the study of child development and child functioning include cognitive and socioemotional  development from the preschool years through adolescence. We also have expertise on adult functioning in community settings. Development is examined, in both research and curriculum, across multiple, interactive contexts or levels. 

These levels include:

    Individual Functioning

  • Basic Processes
  • Individual Differences
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Biological Bases of Behavior

    Interpersonal Processes

  • Family Relationships
  • Peer Relationships
  • Parenting

    Community, Cultural, and Public Policy

  • Schools & Learning Environments
  • Poverty
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Gender


For international students, Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology is a STEM designated program by the Department of Homeland Security. Learn more on the International Applicants page

Financial Assistance

Our doctoral students are guaranteed funding (including an annual stipend and full tuition coverage and health coverage) for a minimum of three years.

Most students are funded for their full five-year program.

Stipends are derived from research assistantships with faculty and teaching fellowships. 

At a Glance

How many courses?

This program consists of 18 courses for a total of 54 credits. 

How long will it take?

Full time students will typically complete the program in 5 years.

When can I start?

Students can begin the program only in the fall semester.

What are my options?

Students can enroll on a full-time basis.

Program Faculty & Expertise

What will I study?


  • Courses: 18
  • Credits: 54
  • Comprehensve Exam
Course Course Title Credit
APSY 9920

Proseminar in Current Issues in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology

Introduces students to a variety of current research topics, professional development issues, teaching preparation, and application in the fields of Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology. Includes colloquia by invited speakers and by students.


Cultural Processes, Social, and Emotional Development

Provides an in-depth study of select aspects of children’s social and emotional lives in communities around the world. Considers the interplay of cultural, ecological, and biological processes that contribute to children’s development by examining research from different theoretical and methodological traditions. Looks at the ideological underpinnings of the writings we explore and their implications for assumptions regarding normative developmental processes and conceptions of good care and competent children. 


Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior

This course discusses theories of human development and examines empirical research on cognitive and affective processes underlying behavior. In addressing the cognitive bases of behavior, it explores key mental processes (e.g., attention, memory, problem solving) and constructs (e.g., schemas, heuristics) that have been instrumental in understanding everyday functioning. 

APSY 8813 Sociocultural Contexts of Development

Doctoral seminar which seeks to explore both theoretical and empirical scholarship on the primary sociocultural contexts within which human development is embedded, including families, schools, communities, and cultural environments; to consider the bidirectional relationships between such contexts and individuals' development; and to improve competencies in critically evaluating the methodological and theoretical strengths and weaknesses of research in the field.

APSY 9841

Quantitative Research Design in Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology

In this year-long seminar, students examine quantitative research designs and application employed in the Counseling and Developmental Psychology literatures, including randomized, nonrandomized, cross-sectional, and longitudinal designs. Students present and critique published research exemplifying specific designs, propose empirical studies that could advance counseling and developmental psychology, and present findings from their own empirical work. 


Where do our graduates work?

University of Washington

Assistant Professor

University of Houston

Assistant Professor

University of Maine
TRIO Upward Bound 

Assistant Director

University of Delaware

Assistant Professor



Ruderman Family Foundation

Program Officer

Wingate University

Assistant Professor

University of Connecticut

Assistant Professor

University of Chicago, Chapin Hall



Boston College

Post Doctoral Fellow

University of Hawaii

Assistant Professor

Clemson University

Assistant Professor

University of Michigan, Survey Research Center

Research Investigator

Career paths chosen by previous graduates of the ADEP PhD Program.

Application Information


Click the boxes below for additional details on each item


All applicants
December 1

Application Form

Apply Now

A non-refundable application fee of $75 is required, however, this fee is waived for select applicants.


To be uploaded to your online Application Form

In addition to your academic history and relevant work experience, please include any licenses currently held, any social justice-related experience, any language skills other than English, and any research experience or publications.

Personal Statement

To be uploaded to your online Application Form.

In 1,000-1,500 words, describe your academic and professional goals, any experience relevant to this program, and your future plans, expectations, and aspirations.

Letters of Recommendation

Identification of recommenders/instructions to recommenders are outlined in the online Application Form

Two letters of recommendation are required with at least one required from an academic source. Applicants may submit one additional recommendation of their choice.


Undergraduate transcripts are required as part of the application process and graduate transcripts are accepted, but not required. Please note the following:

  • Only official transcripts, bearing the official seal of the institution and the signature of the relevant administrator, are acceptable.
  • Copies and unofficial transcripts are not acceptable.
  • If you are a current student and have not completed your undergraduate degree at the time your transcript is sent, the most updated version of your transcript is acceptable.


Transcripts must be mailed to the following address:

Boston College, Lynch School of Education
Office of Graduate Admission, Financial Aid, and Student Services
Campion Hall 135
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Standardized Tests

An unofficial score report may be uploaded to your online Application Form; however, an official score report – sent directly from ETS – must also be submitted by the application deadline.

  • This program requires all applicants to have taken the GRE in a maximum of 5 years prior to application being submitted, regardless of previous academic coursework, previous degrees/credentials earned, and/or professional experience. No exceptions will be made.

  • The GRE is the only exam that is acceptable for this program; the MAT, LSAT, MTEL, GMAT, and other exams may not be substituted for the GRE.

For more information about the GRE exam, including test dates and testing sites, visit

Lynch School of Education GRE Code: 3218

Writing Sample

All applicants to this program are required to submit one piece of work that demonstrates graduate-level writing ability. This document may be an academic term paper, a published work in which you are the primary author, a training manual or curriculum that you have created, or another representative sample of your writing. The document should be approximately 15-25 pages.

International Students

International applicants are encouraged to apply to the Lynch School of Education. Learn about requirements for international students.