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Graduate School


Developmental Science

Department Head

Dr. James Deal

Graduate Coordinator

Dr. Joel Hektner

Department Location

Evelyn Morrow Lebedeff Hall

Telephone Number

(701) 231-8268

Degree Offered


Application Deadline

February 1 Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.

Test Requirements

GRE General

English Proficiency Requirements

TOEFL ibT 100 (subscores of at least 24 for speaking and 21 for writing)


Program Description

Developmental Science is an emerging approach to the study of human development that combines elements of more traditional approaches from the fields of Developmental Psychology and Human Development. Developmental Science entails the study of human development across the lifespan, integrating the biological, cognitive, and socioemotional underpinnings of development, and incorporating the familial, social, institutional and cultural contexts in which development occurs.

Program Objectives

The purpose of the program will be to train doctoral students in Developmental Science.  The program requires coursework and activities that will produce professionals with strong skills in research, teaching, and service who will be competitive on the job market. These professionals will have a strong, interdisciplinary understanding of developmental science that will enable them to assume positions of leadership in research, teaching, and community and government agencies.

Specific program objectives are as follows:

  1. Students will acquire marked ability, knowledge, and research skills in developmental science.
  2. Students will conduct original research in developmental science. 
  3. Students will acquire the ability to be effective teachers. 
  4. Students will be prepared to be professionals in developmental science. 

Program Delivery

The program will be delivered through traditional means, and students will be expected to be in residence at NDSU throughout the duration of the program. Although course instructors may incorporate online or hybrid delivery designs into their courses, the primary mode of instruction will be in small face-to-face classes and in one-on-one mentorship. Upon completion of coursework and in exceptional circumstances, students whose faculty advisors and committee members agree to work with them at a distance may be able to move elsewhere if necessary while completing the dissertation. In that case, the student and relevant faculty would need to mutually agree on a communication plan. 

Program Requirements


Curriculum for students entering with a Bachelor’s degree (90 credits total)

  • All courses 3 credits unless otherwise noted.
  • Students earn a Master’s degree after completing 30 credits, oral examination and Master's thesis.
  • Students will be evaluated after the second year. Any who is deemed unfit to continue to the Ph.D. would be allowed to complete the Masters.

Didactic Core Courses (24 credits)

HDFS 702 College Teaching in Developmental Science

HDFS 703 Research Methods

HDFS 705 Quantitative Methods in Developmental Science

HDFS 756 Advanced Quantitative Methods

HDFS 758 Longitudinal Research Methods and Analysis 

HDFS 782 Advanced Human Development: Birth through Childhood 

HDFS 784 Advanced Human Development: Adolescence through Early Adulthood

HDFS 786 Advanced Human Development: Middle through Late Adulthood 

Electives (16 credits)

Must include 9 credits in didactic 700-level courses in HDFS or other departments, including at least one course from HDFS 724, 725, 726

Maximum of 7 credits of HDFS 793 (beyond 17 required credits)

Maximum of 7 credits of HDFS 796 (beyond 4 required credits)

Non-didactic Courses (12 credits)

HDFS 790 Developmental Science Colloquium, to be taken 8 semesters (1 credit each)

HDFS 796 Readings and Research in Developmental Science (4 credits total)

The first and fifth years 

Research Credits (38 credits total)

HDFS 793 Individual Study (research) (17 credits)

HDFS 798 Master’s Thesis (6 credits)

HDFS 799 Dissertation (15 credits)


Curriculum for students entering with a Master’s degree (60 credits total)

  • All courses 3 credits unless otherwise noted. 

Didactic Courses (21 credits total)

HDFS 702 College Teaching in Developmental Science

HDFS 756 Advanced Quantitative Methods

HDFS 758 Longitudinal Research Methods and Analysis

Four more didactic 700-level courses; could be outside of HDFS (to be approved by committee)

Other elective (3 credits): could include HDFS 793, 794, or 796, or 700-level course in HDFS or other department

Non-didactic Courses (9 credits total)

HDFS 790 Developmental Science Colloquium, to be taken 5 semesters (1 credit each)

HDFS 796 Readings and Research in Developmental Science (4 credits total). Four semesters, 1 credit each.

Research Credits (27 credits total)

HDFS 793 Individual Study (research) (12 credits)

HDFS 799 Dissertation (15 credits)

Other requirements

  • Teach one undergraduate course, with supervision (as part of assistantship or for course credit in HDFS 794). Must have first taken HDFS 702.
  • Submit at least four proposal/abstracts for presentations or posters at national conferences, including as a co-presenter (2 submissions if enter with MS)
  • Present (in person) at least twice at national conferences (once if enter with MS), unless a waiver is granted by the student’s committee.
  • Submit at least two peer-reviewed articles for publication (including as co-author). Note: Although these presentation and publication requirements do not carry course credit per se, they are projects that would be worked on as part of HDFS 793, HDFS 796, and/or HDFS 799.
  • Comprehensive/preliminary examination
  • Dissertation: format to be determined by student’s committee.

Click here for course descriptions.

Core Faculty


James E. Deal, Ph.D.
University of Georgia, 1987
Research Interests: Personality Development in Children; Research Methods 

Margaret Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
Iowa State University, 1997
Research Interests: Birth-timing & Economic Outcomes; The Interface Between Family Business & The Family 

Heather Fuller-Iglesias, Ph.D.
University of Michigan, 2009 
Research Interests: Social Support and Family Dynamics Across the Lifespan; Psychosocial Aging; Cultural Contexts 

Joel Hektner, Ph.D.
University of Chicago, 1996
Research Interests: Alcohol/Drug Abuse Prevention; Delinquency; Peer Affiliation Patterns/ Influences on Behavior 

Melissa Lunsman O'Connor, Ph.D.
University of South Florida, 2010
Research Interests: Cognitive and Functional Aging in Healthy and Clinical Populations; Older Drivers; Research Methods; Attitudes toward Dementia 

Brandy A. Randall, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2002
Research Interests: Prosocial & Moral Development; Relationships; Positive/Problem Behaviors  

Elizabeth Blodgett Salafia, Ph.D.
University of Notre Dame, 2008
Research Interests: Family and Peer Influences on Adolescents' Disordered Eating Attitudes and Behaviors 

Rebecca Woods, Ph.D. 
Texas A&M University, 2006 
Research Interests: Perception and cognition in infancy; object processing; multimodal processing; early gender differences 

Affiliated Faculty with in HDFS

Kristen Benson, Ph.D. 
Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University, 2008
Research Interests: Gender Identity and Family/Partner Relationships, Diversity Issues in Family Therapy, Collaborative Approaches to Family Therapy Education and Training, and Qualitative Methodology

Sean Brotherson, Ph.D.
Oregon State University, 2000
Research Interests: Parenting; Family Life Education 

Christie McGeorge, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, 2005
Research Interests: Family Caregiving; Family Wellness; Premarital Counseling 

Sharon Query, Ph.D. 

Thomas Carlson, Ph.D.
Iowa State University, 2000
Research Interests: Family Therapy Training & Supervision; Fathering 

Affiliated Faculty outside of HDFS

Ben Balas, Ph.D.,  
Ardith Brunt, Ph.D., 
Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science
Ann Burnett, Ph.D., 
Women’s Studies
Erin Conwell, Ph.D., 
Donna Grandbois, Ph.D., 
Daniel Klenow, Ph.D., 
Emergency Management 
Linda Langley, Ph.D., 
Susan Ray-Degges, Ph.D.,
Apparel, Design and Hospitality Management
Larry Reynolds, Ph.D., 
Animal Sciences
Greg Sanders, Ph.D., 
Human Development & Education 
Molly Secor-Turner, Ph.D., 
Kevin Thompson, Ph.D., 
Criminal Justice and Political Science
Wendy Troop-Gordon, Ph.D., 
Kim Vonnahme, Ph.D., 
Animal Sciences 
Rachelle Vettern, Ph.D., 
Center for 4-H Youth Development


Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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NDSU Graduate School
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7033
Campus address:  106 Putnam Hall
Physical/delivery address:  NDSU Graduate School/106 Putnam Hall/1349 12th Avenue Northwest/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  NDSU Dept. 2820/PO Box 6050/Fargo, ND 58108
Page manager: NDSU Graduate School

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:14:48 PM