Master's Programs in Human Development

Developing Your Expertise.
Developing Their Potential.

Are you interested in how people grow and develop over the course of a lifetime? Are you interested in helping people lead productive, plentiful lives?
Individuals who want to learn how to manage and solve issues and concerns of how humans develop in organizations, educational institutions, and the community at large will find the Warner School master’s degrees in human development a rewarding opportunity to pursue this expertise.

Our graduates have successfully secured positions as researcher coordinators, development specialists and human services agency employees in the areas of health and human services, public health, and community development agencies, as well as roles as consultants in nontraditional learning environments. In addition, many of our graduates use this as a stepping stone to continue their education, in pursuit of a diverse array of clinical and doctoral degrees.
The Perfect Pathway to a Doctoral Degree or Clinical Studies!Learn More About Our Scholarships

Program Quickview

The master’s programs described below are designed to provide a foundation in human development and related disciplines.

If you are interested in other counseling or human development programs, check our Related Programs.
  • Completion of a bachelor's degree with a major in one of the following areas: development, psychology, sociology, history, philosophy, public health, education, gerontology, social work, art therapy, music therapy, or a field that is related to any of these aforementioned areas of study.
Key Program Features:
  • Cutting-Edge Curriculum: Interdisciplinary coursework covering contemporary topics, such as emerging knowledge concerning conditions that foster healthy development of minority youth; current knowledge in our understanding of the diversity of factors that promote wellness in older populations; the interplay between mind, body and society in determining developmental trajectories; the deleterious effects of chronic stress; and fostering “engaged scholarship” that encourages the development of thriving communities.
  • Customizable: A number of concentrations are available focusing on subject matter that occupies the forefront of human development research; each option includes 12 credits of electives.
  • Unique Apprenticeship Opportunities: Research apprenticeship opportunities are available in a wide array of settings.  Students have the opportunity to become a part of a research team led by a human development faculty member or may explore opportunities to apprentice at the University of Rochester Medical Center or other units across the university.
  • Option to Add Specializations:  By strategically choosing electives, you can add an advanced certificate for little or no additional credits. Students may also elect to take courses that can count toward a NYS license in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
  • Diverse, Dynamic Faculty: Faculty offer a rich diversity of expertise in areas, such as community engagement, minority youth development, gerontology, Applied Behavior Analysis, social determinants of healthy development, self-determination theory, college student development, and inclusive learning environments.
  • Flexible: Program can be started in any semester and can be completed in only one year of full-time study, or two years of part-time study for those balancing work and study.
  • Combined Program Option: Students adding at least one advanced certificate may enroll in a “combined program” that will help secure the appropriate visa for international students and extend loan eligibility for domestic students.

Warner Master's Programs in Human Development

You can pursue a MS program in human development at Warner through any of the following pathways. Each require 30 credits of graduate coursework and three common core courses, with different specialization courses:
You can also select an “combined” option for the M.S. in Human Development, which will allow you to pursue this master’s program concurrently with at least one of the advanced certificates listed below – thus leading to multiple credentials for only a few additional credits.  The length of this combined program and its total number of credits will depend on the chosen advanced certificate(s) and other optional enhancements; this option may be especially desirable for international students interested in additional specializations and willing to devote 4-5 semesters to their master’s program:
  • Combined Option (HDZ)
Opportunities for Additional Specializations (with minimum additional credits required):
  • Advanced Certificate in Program Evaluation: Strengthens your research and skills in planning and conducting evaluations of existing programs.
  • Advanced Certificate in Urban Teaching and Leadership: Prepares you to work with highly diverse and disadvantaged youth in urban settings.
  • Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching: Prepares you to leverage online learning in a variety of instructional contexts (from university courses to professional development and public dissemination).
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): ABA courses can be chosen as electives; if interested in eventually obtaining NYS licensure as a Licensed Behavior Analyst, or BCBA national certification, these courses can be applied toward those programs.
Early Admission for UR Undergraduates
University of Rochester undergraduates have an opportunity to get a jump start toward an MS in human development while still working toward their bachelor’s degree, and complete both programs in a total of just five years.  Undergraduates that receive early admission must work closely with advisors to ensure that they fulfill the requirements for both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

  • Completion, prior to admission, of at least 103 credits toward a bachelor’s degree with a major in one of the following areas: human development, psychology, sociology, history, philosophy, public health, or a related degree.
  • Research experience is highly desirable, but not required.
Special Program Features:
  • Total of 45 credits (of which at least 30 must be at the graduate level and taken above and beyond the NYS minimum undergraduate graduation requirement of 128 credits).
  • After completing the first 15 credits of study, students with highly successful records may be considered for admission into a doctoral program in human development (instead of the MS in human development).
Special Program Benefits:
  • Ability to focus on an area of concentration that reflects your vision for your long-term goals.
  • Exposure to cutting-edge research initiatives at a leading research university.
  • Opportunity to become a research apprentice working with a recognized scholar in the field of human development.
  • Ability to lay the groundwork for doctoral-level training. 
students in circle sitting on quad

Our Approach

Creating an Environment for Healthy Human Development.

Our goal at the Warner School is to lead the way in helping our students understand how to develop and transform environments that foster healthy human development.

Our human development students are grounded in an understanding of how environmental factors shape developmental processes that lead to life-long wellness. More specifically, our master’s degree programs in human development are designed to shape students as practitioners and scholars who can inform organizational and institutional settings that emphasize healthy human development using holistic approaches that consider the range of social, cultural, familial, and intrapersonal factors that significantly influence wellness.
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Learn More About Warner's Approach to Human Development
Some of the greatest contemporary advances in our understanding of healthy human development come from research that draws on multiple disciplines. To meet the demand for cross-disciplinary facility, human development students at the Warner School are immersed in an interdisciplinary curriculum based on a deep understanding of human development and human potential, as well as a commitment to promoting healthy human development through research, policy, education, and human services. There is a particular focus on social patterns that shape physical and psychological health as people progress through the life course.

Students acquire a firm grounding in developmental and social theory, action-oriented research, and nurturing leadership skills. They study human development from early childhood through old age and from philosophical, historical, sociological, and psychological perspectives, with an emphasis on integration across these disciplines and a focus on processes of growth and change, rather than on static concepts of individuals. The programs focus on the relationships between development processes and the contexts in which they occur.

Underlying all of our graduate programs and the educating professions of teaching, administration, and counseling is a fundamental understanding of human growth and development. Whether we are working to build healthy families, improve neighborhoods and communities, transform sociocultural structures that perpetuate social justice, create an effective social studies curriculum, or reform schools through improved leadership and organization, the development of human beings and the ability of individuals to flourish through social change in organizations and communities is an issue of paramount interest and concern at the Warner School.

The Warner Advantage

Preparing Graduates to Innovate, Advocate, and Elevate.

At Warner, you will receive the highest-quality preparation to bring an understanding of human development to your organization and work.
  • Be challenged to become an innovator and a thought leader by learning from a diversity of experts in human development.
  • Be prepared for the 21st century through a cutting-edge curriculum that keeps pace with emerging knowledge in the field of human development.
  • Learn to best utilize your own personal strengths to promote the well-being and success of a wide diversity of people, in settings ranging from education, healthcare institutions, human services, and community development agencies.
  • Learn from an accessible, supportive faculty of researchers and accomplished practitioners to become a dynamic specialist in human development.
  • Network with the best and the brightest peers.
  • Participate in and draw from the research initiatives of a world-class medical research facility.
  • Leverage the reputation of a leading research university to give your degree even more recognition.
  • Shorten your path to additional clinical and doctoral degrees by earning transferable credits.
While rigorous, the flexible design of our human development programs can accommodate the work–life obligations of today’s students.
  • Start the program in any semester.
  • Go at your own pace, by choosing either part-time or full-time options.
  • Take advantage of online courses to reduce trips to campus.
  • Benefit from scholarships that can significantly reduce tuition costs.
  • Are you a University of Rochester employee? Make sure you make full use of your tuition benefits.

All About Experience

Your experience at Warner will be informed by the many research projects and community initiatives we are engaged in. In addition, you'll benefit from the experience of faculty that include nationally recognized researchers, award-winning authors and accomplished practitioners.

Development and Health Care

Connecting Human Development and Health Care

Warner professor Silvia Sörensen is involved in many research projects in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Center – offering unique research apprenticeship opportunities for Warner students. One of her current grant-funded projects – REBUILD-VL –aims to strengthen the capacity of older adults to cope with impeding severe vision loss in order to prevent or reduce subsequent depression.

ENGOAL Project

ENGOAL Project

Learn from a collaborative community project that is helping to shape current and future geriatric research. The project, a collaboration with the UR School of Nursing led by Warner Professors Silvia Sörensen and Joyce Duckles, is designed to train and engage older adults as research partners to study issues related to aging.

Lady raising hand

International Expert in Motivation

Warner professor Martin Lynch has published numerous articles related to his research on self-determination theory, exploring links between motivation, basic psychological needs, and well-being. His 2014 Fulbright Fellowship in Russia led to a long-term relationship with Kazan Federal University.

Career Opportunities

Advancing Education and Your Career to the Next Level.

A diversity of career opportunities, inside and outside of academia, emerge from or can be complemented by the study of human development. Thanks to a cross-disciplinary approach, graduates of our master’s in human development programs have emerged as thought leaders in educational, clinical, research, and community settings, well prepared to succeed in an array of roles and careers, including:
  • Working as a research coordinator or as part of a research team.
  • Serving as part of a team working to transform struggling communities.
  • Working as an educator or consultant in nontraditional educational settings, such as museums and libraries.
  • Working for community agencies and foundations supporting healthy communities and healthy human development.
  • Working as a program evaluator.
Graduates can also utilize their degree as a pathway to a doctoral degree, which has led to careers as teachers/scholars in higher education, researchers across related fields, thought leaders, and administrators in community and educational organizations that seek to improve the lives of people by fostering healthy human development.

Graduates can also successfully transition to clinical programs that complement the degree in human development, such as mental health counseling, social work, clinical or counseling psychology, or Applied Behavior Analysis. 

Our master’s degree programs in human development have also provided a vehicle for international students, who are interested in becoming experts in emerging knowledge in the field of human development, to launch a diversity of career paths.
portrait of three generations in a family


An Accessible, Supportive Faculty of Researchers and Accomplished Practitioners.


Making it Affordable to Make Warner Possible.

Many of our human development master’s students benefit from merit-based scholarships that significantly decrease tuition costs.

Contact admissions for more information.

Are You a UR Employee? Inquire about your tuition benefits. If eligible, up to 95% of your tuition costs can be covered depending on your position. Contact the UR benefits office at

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Try Us Out

A Warner Degree Opens Doors. Open Ours to See Why.

Do you want to get a taste of what Warner can offer, before committing to one of our programs?

We invite you to come and observe one of our human development courses.

Or even better, take a Warner course for a highly discounted price. Some of our courses are offered fully online and can be taken from anywhere in the world. For example, our signature course, ED429: Theories of Human Development, is offered fully online every summer and spring semester.

Contact admissions to arrange for a visit or learn more about opportunities for non-matriculated students.
elderly hand grasping a younger one


Meliora means 'Ever Better.' To our graduates, it means making a world of difference.

  • Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

    “It was more than I expected. Not only what I learned in the program, which I’ve been able to put into practice every day since, but also the connections I was able to make and the relationships I was able to form."

    Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

  • Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

    "The most important thing I received there was the opportunity to be immersed in the study of education and leadership with very talented people, that think-tank mentality of being surrounded by the best of the best. The intellectual stimulation from both the staff and fellow classmates really did allow me to think about things differently."

    Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

  • Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children

    “When it came time to interview for jobs, it was very easy for me to talk about anything in the field, and that set me apart,” he says. “You name it, and I had at least one experience in it—largely due to Warner.”

    Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY

  • Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

    “I had a very unique situation. I wasn’t going down the typical path of a Warner student, and the school was just so flexible and supportive.”

    Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

  • Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

    “As educators, it’s our job to make sure we’re giving students the knowledge to be successful when they move on in their life….Warner was the best grad school experience I’ve ever had because it prepared me extremely well to jump into my career, and I will forever be grateful for that.”

    Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

  • Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

    "The growth I’ve realized in myself is something I will be forever grateful for. I’ve learned to question, analyze, think and create in ways I never considered. I’ve changed as an educator and as a person."

    Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

Contact Admissions

The admissions team looks forward to assisting you as you explore graduate education at the Warner School. Please feel free to use the form below to contact us with any questions. You can also email us at or call (585) 275-3950.

Application Deadlines

The next application deadline is March 01, 2023. View all  Admissions Deadlines.

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