Graduate Focus Area

Applied Developmental Psychology

Teacher reading book to young children

Area Description and Program Goals

Applied Developmental Psychology focuses on how knowledge and research regarding human development can be used to help solve real world problems. The program emphasizes developmental methodology and research on development within changing social, cultural, and historical contexts across the life-span. The major focus is Developmental Science and Education, with special attention to the development of motivation, mindfulness, self and identity, and coping in the context of relationships with parents, teachers, and peers. An emerging theme is the implementation and evaluation of strategies to improve the developmental contexts of children and youth as well as their teachers.

Developmental Science and Education (DeSE)

Portland State University offers training in the interdisciplinary specialty of Developmental Science and Education. Faculty and graduate and undergraduate students share a common interest in understanding schools as primary cultural contexts of human learning and development. Research projects focus on the learning, development, and well-being of students, their peers and teachers, and school staff. Developmental science and education is also concerned with the application of research strategies and knowledge from the developmental disciplines to address issues facing educators and parents. DeSE is particularly interested in working with schools who serve students from racial and ethnic minority, immigrant, and low income families. DeSE training is available to students in all areas of psychology as well as students from other fields.

Ph.D. students may complete a minor in DeSE which usually includes working with faculty and taking courses from outside of psychology, such as from education, sociology, anthropology, social work, criminal justice, or urban and public affairs.

Research and training in Developmental Science and Education are aligned with PSU's Cradle to Career Initiative, the Graduate School of Education, the Center for Science Education, and schools in Portland, across the US, and internationally. 

Main Contact:
Thomas Kindermann, Ph.D.


Core Faculty

  • Karlyn Adams-Wiggins, Ph.D.
  • Thomas Kindermann, Ph.D.
  • Andrew Mashburn, Ph.D.
  • Ellen Skinner, Ph.D.
  • Joel Steele, Ph.D.

Emeritus Faculty

  • Dalton Miller-Jones, Ph.D.
  • Cathleen Smith, Ph.D.
  • Donald Truxillo, Ph.D.

Affiliated Faculty

  • Yves Labissiere, Ph.D., University Studies, Portland State University
  • Carol Morgaine, Ph.D., Child and Family Studies, Portland State University
  • Robert W. Roeser, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
  • Dilafruz Williams, Ph.D., Graduate School of Education, Portland State University

Graduate Seminars

  • PSY 4/568 Social Development
  • PSY 4/587 Life-Span Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 510 Biological Bases of Development
  • PSY 510 Cognitive Development
  • PSY 510 Culture and Development
  • PSY 510 Psychol. Development of African American Children
  • PSY 510 Beginning Reading
  • PSY 510 Moral Development
  • PSY 559 Infant Development
  • PSY 560 Child Psychology
  • PSY 561 Psychology of Adolescence and Early Maturity
  • PSY 562 Adult Development and Aging
  • PSY 564 Developmental Psychopathology
  • PSY 586 Lifespan Development
  • PSY 58x Social Development
  • PSY 5/610 Coping and Development
  • PSY 5/610 Developmental Science and Education
  • PSY 5/610 Parenting
  • PSY 5/610 Evolution and Development
  • PSY 5/610 Observational Research Applications
  • PSY 5/615 Advanced Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 5/698 Field Observation Methods

Other Electives

  • PSY 6XX Research in Applied Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 5/610 Moral Development
  • PSY 5/610 Cultural Influences on Childrearing
  • PSY 5/610 Developmental Contexts

Where Our Alumni Go

Past graduates have become employed at a variety of agencies (e.g., Multnomah County Health Department, US Department of Justice, Portland Public Schools, Providence Health Care; CASA; Child Welfare Partnerships), at universities (e.g., Griffith University, Australia; University of Minnesota; Washington State University), and community colleges (e.g., Cascade Community College, Clark Community College), or have transferred to other graduate programs after completing their Masters Degree at PSU (e.g., Clark University, MA; University of Nebraska)