Doctoral Programs in Human Development

Advancing Human Development.
Advancing Your Career.

Are you interested in the latest research in human development? Do you want to influence your field and the  next generation of practitioners?
If you have master’s level training in education, human development, psychology or sociology, or perhaps a professional master’s degree in areas, such as counseling, social work, creative arts therapy, or library science, a doctoral degree in human development allows you to apply your diverse background in ways you had not imagined. Our graduates have careers as professors in higher education, researchers in areas related to human development such as public health, social work or education, leadership in agencies, independent consultants, and program evaluators.

We invite you to check out our human development doctoral programs, and see how you can benefit from the expertise and support of faculty involved in cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary projects, while pursuing your specific interests.
We Can Customize Your Doctoral Program to Meet Your Career Goals and Interests!

Program Quickview

These PhD and EdD programs featured below can be easily customized to meet your specific career goals and interests related to human development. Whether you are mostly interested in social, emotional or cognitive development, focusing on a specific age group or population, or pursuing some specific topic within human development, Warner will work with you to help you achieve your goals.

If you are interested in other Warner doctoral programs, check our Related Programs.
  • Prior master’s degree in human development, psychology, sociology, public health, education, gerontology, counseling, creative arts therapy, social work, or a related field. Students with highly successful undergraduate records, including some research experience, may be considered for direct admission into the doctoral program.
Key Program Features:
  • Minimum Credits: 90 graduate credits; some of which can be transferred from previous programs (up to 30 credits for PhDs; up to 36 credits for EdDs).
  • Cutting-Edge Curriculum: Includes emerging knowledge concerning conditions that foster healthy development of 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; “engaged scholarship” that supports the development of thriving communities; and advanced qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Customizable: Students can choose electives in their specific areas of interest, tailor projects in most courses, and most importantly, select their dissertation topic.
  • Exciting Research Apprenticeship Opportunities: Research apprenticeship opportunities are available in a wide array of university settings.  Students have the opportunity to become a part of a research team led by a human development faculty member or may explore opportunities for apprenticeships at the University of Rochester Medical Center or other units across the University.
  • Dynamic Faculty: Program faculty have 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, developmental theory integration, and inclusive learning environments.
  • Flexible: Programs can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, starting in any semester; minimum one year full-time residency requirement for PhD students only.

Warner Doctoral Programs in Human Development

PhD in Education with Concentration in Human Development (HD4): Prepares graduates for academic positions in universities and other higher education settings, as well as research positions in government agencies or other educational organizations.

EdD with Specialization in Human Development (HD3): Prepares and supports experienced practitioners for leadership positions in their field, as well as selected higher education faculty positions; can be completed on a part-time basis while maintaining full-time employment.  Accelerated option (HD0) also available.
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Opportunities for Additional Specializations (with additional credits required)
  • Advanced Certificate in Program Evaluation: To strengthen your research skills in planning and conducting evaluations of existing or developing programs.
  • Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching: To be more competitive for positions that may involve teaching online.
Choosing Between a PhD and an EdD Program … What’s the Difference?
Warner PhD programs are primarily designed to prepare researchers and higher education faculty. Our EdD programs are more appropriate for experienced professionals interested in using research to solve problems of practice, enabling them to pursue leadership positions in educational institutions or to assist them in designing and implementing programs to improve practice in their field.

While the required coursework may be similar, these two degree programs have different expectations concerning dissertation study, expertise in research methods, and residency requirements.  Here’s what you can expect:
  • PhD students are expected to focus on only a few specific areas early on so as to become experts in those areas. EdD students, on the other hand, are expected to develop a broad understanding of their own as well as related fields.
  • While both PhD and EdD students take the same foundational research methods courses, PhD students are required to take additional, advanced research methods courses to develop expertise in using a rich array of traditional research methods.
  • PhD dissertations require independent research that will contribute new knowledge to their field, while EdD dissertations may involve a wider array of choices, including: case studies of specific innovations; action research studies to improve specific programs or practices; research- and data-based analysis to inform important decisions; or rigorous evaluations of existing programs.
  • In addition to their dissertation, PhD students are encouraged to engage in research apprenticeships with faculty.
  • EdD students can complete their program part time, while PhD students are required to complete at least one year of residency (i.e., be full time for two consecutive semesters, taking at least 12 credits of coursework each semester, or 9 credits if awarded an assistantship) and are encouraged to complete as much of their program as possible full time.
Contact admissions if you wish to speak with a faculty member to better understand which option will best meet your career goals.

Our Approach

Preparing You to be an Innovative Leader and Researcher in Human Development.

The Warner School counseling and human development program has adopted a vision for human development that emphasizes the notion that healthy human development is heavily dependent on creating healthy environments, be they in schools, communities, or healthcare facilities.

The Warner School leads the way in developing transformative school and community practices, and in fostering well-being across the life course, and human development students are grounded in a particular understanding of how environmental factors shape the developmental processes that lead to life-long wellness. More specifically, the doctoral programs in human development are designed to shape students as scholars, educators, and leaders who model educational and practice settings to emphasize healthy human development using holistic approaches that consider the range of social, cultural, familial, and intrapersonal factors that influence wellness.
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Learn More About Warner's Approach to Doctoral Programs
All doctoral programs offered at the Warner School are characterized by the following common principles and goals:
  • Integration of Research, Theory, and Practice: We believe that doctoral candidates should recognize the false dichotomy between theory and practice, as well as the complementary values of basic and applied research.  Our graduates will not only gain an excellent understanding of key theories in their field, but will also be able to identify and critically examine the theoretical framework informing research reported in the literature, as well as their own. EdD candidates should also form a solid research and theory base that grounds their leadership in their field of practice.   
  • Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration: We encourage doctoral candidates to recognize the need and value of collaborating across fields and constituencies to address complex problems in education.
  • Commitment to Social Justice: We strengthen our doctoral candidates’ commitment to equity and social justice and for conducting research that is inclusive of all individuals, communities, and cultures.
  • In-Depth Knowledge of Area of Specialization: Our doctoral candidates develop a broad and solid knowledge of relevant research in their area of specialization, while understanding how that field is connected to others.
  • Research Practices: Our doctoral candidates articulate and pursue worthwhile research questions, and are familiar with and able to use a variety of research methodologies relevant to their field of specialization.   
  • Academic Writing Practices: We prepare our doctoral candidates to effectively communicate research results in scholarly publications, consistent with academic writing expectations.

The Warner Advantage

Preparing Graduates to Innovate, Advocate, and Elevate.

Warner is helping to create world-class educational leaders and researchers who can advance the field of human development.
  • Become an innovator and a thought leader in your field by learning from faculty involved in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research.
  • Learn from a diversity of experts in human development to become a dynamic specialist in promoting, through teaching, scholarship, and leadership, the well-being and success of a wide diversity of people across the life course in settings ranging from schools to communities to healthcare settings.
  • Develop strong research skills by taking advantage of a variety of research methods courses and opportunities for research apprenticeships.
  • Options to complete an advanced certificate enable you to broaden your skillset and increase your competitiveness in the job market.
  • Gain exposure to cutting-edge curriculum that keeps pace with emerging knowledge in the field of human development.
  • Draw from collaborative research initiatives at a world-class medical research facility.
  • Network with the best and the brightest educators and future leaders.
  • Small, personalized program allows both flexibility to pursue your interests and opportunities to create strong relationships with faculty.
  • Give your degree even more recognition by leveraging the reputation of a leading research university.
While rigorous, Warner can provide a customized, flexible, and affordable doctoral program.
  • Go at your own pace by choosing between full-time or part-time options. 
  • Use your electives and choices for core courses to specialize in your area of interest, add advanced certificates, or maximize transfer credits from prior graduate work.
  • Take advantage of online courses to reduce trips to campus.
  • Reduce tuition costs by taking advantage of a wide range of competitive full and partial assistantship opportunities.
  • 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.

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Growing a Healthy Community

Warner School professor Joyce Duckles is leading a study that works with parents, grandparents, and others who live and work in the Beechwood neighborhood in Rochester, N.Y. to understand and document the co-construction of spaces to grow food, develop a business, and build a community. Her work focuses on understanding how to support local food and health practices and co-construct spaces for healthy and sustainable change.

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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.

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.

Career Opportunities

Warner Doctoral Programs Provide the Perfect Pathway to Wherever You Want to Go.

Graduates of our EdD and PhD programs in human development will be prepared to succeed in an array of roles and careers, including:
  • Working as a faculty member in master’s- and doctoral-level human development programs.
  • For those coming to the program with a social work background, opportunity to work as a faculty member in social work exists at some institutions.
  • Working as a research associate in fields related to human development, such as public health, psychology, and sociology.
  • Working as a leader in community agencies.
  • Working as a private contractor, consultant, or program evaluator.
Our doctoral programs have provided a vehicle for international students interested in becoming experts in emerging knowledge in the field of human development.
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An Accessible, Supportive Faculty of Researchers and Accomplished Practitioners.

Core Program Faculty

Samantha Daley, PhD
Instructional practices for students with learning disabilities
Kathryn Douthit, PhD
Epigenetics; social determinants of gerontological health and mental health 
Joyce Duckles, PhD
Family studies; community intervention 
David McAdam, PhD
Challenging behaviors 
Martin Lynch, PhD
Self-determination theory 
Silvia Sörensen, PhD
Social gerontology; caregiving; health disparities; interventions 
View all faculty


Making it Affordable to Make Warner Possible.

Many of our full-time doctoral students benefit from full and partial assistantships to support their studies while gaining valuable career experience at the same time.  Full assistantships require 15 to 20 hours per week of service during the fall and spring semesters, and provide a full-tuition waiver as well as a stipend.  Partial assistantships require five to 10 hours per week of service, and offer tuition reduction and stipends commensurate with hours of service. 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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Meliora means 'Ever Better.' To our graduates, it means making a world of difference.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

PhD applications are accepted once a year, and can be applied to from October 17 until December 15.

The next application deadline for the EdD program is March 01, 2023.

View all application deadlines

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