PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology

As of 2023, the PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology is no longer recruiting new students and is no longer accepting applications.

Developmental psychology—one of the most robust areas of the field—is concerned with all aspects of human development, from birth through old age. This program is dedicated to understanding and promoting the wellbeing and development of individuals from socially marginalized or underserved communities.

Applied developmental psychologists enjoy careers in many settings, including:

  • Education, from early child care through adult learning
  • Basic and applied research with diverse populations in both public and private institutions
  • Foundations, government agencies, and community/ nonprofit agencies that sponsor and implement intervention and prevention programs
  • Government, nonprofit, and private institutions that lead the way in policy related to children and families

Thanks to Suffolk’s ideal location in downtown Boston, doctoral students will have ample opportunities to apply their social justice-oriented education while working with the city’s diverse populations.

Students will likely complete this program in 5-6 years, and all accepted students will receive full tuition remission and a stipend for independent research/teaching pursuant to their degree.

View the curriculum

Question and Answer Session with ADP Faculty 10/21

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This program encourages recent undergraduates and professionals in psychology, sociology, education, or other fields related to youth development who’d like to build more research-oriented careers to apply.

Faculty Accepting Students

The Applied Developmental Program is not accepting applications for the Fall 2023 start date. Please check back in late Spring 2023 for updates and additional information.


Application Deadlines

Semester Deadline
Fall December 15
  • Completed application
  • Resume
  • Official transcripts for all post-secondary education
  • Goal Statement (essay)
  • Two Letters of Recommendation (learn more)
  • Official GRE Scores
    • GRE scores are not required as part of the application for the applied developmental psychology doctoral program for the 2022 admission cycle. Applicants who wish to submit their GRE scores are welcome to do so as part of their applications. However, GRE score submission is optional for this year’s application.
  • Official TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE-Academic Scores (international students only)

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Application Materials

Students wishing to apply for admission must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and must complete the Suffolk University Graduate Admission Application Form. All applicants should use the online application.


Unofficial transcripts of all post-secondary work. Admitted students enrolling in the program will need to have official transcripts, including proof of degree conferral, on file prior to their first class.

Students must submit official scores on the general aptitude (verbal, quantitative, and analytic or analytical writing) sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); the advanced psychology subject test is not required, but is recommended for applicants who do not hold an undergraduate degree in psychology. The Suffolk University GRE code is 3771. There is no separate GRE code for the Psychology Department; please use 3771 to code all scores.

NOTE: Students who score less than the 50th percentile on either the GRE verbal or the GRE quantitative sections have little chance of admission in the absence of compelling compensating factors. In addition, a GRE writing score of 4.0 or higher is typically a prerequisite for admission. In addition, most of our admitted applicants carry a psychology GPA of at least 3.5.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GRE scores are not required as part of the application for the applied developmental psychology doctoral program for the 2022 admission cycle. Applicants who wish to submit their GRE scores are welcome to do so as part of their applications. However, GRE score submission is optional for this year’s application.

Special attention should be paid to the personal statement, which should include all relevant background experience (in both research and applied settings), academic interests, professional goals, and potential mentors. Applicants should specifically identify and describe those portions of their experience and professional goals that they believe make them well-suited to this program and the faculty with whom they would like to work. In addition, the program is dedicated to training applied developmental psychologists who will have competency working with diverse populations from a social justice orientation. We encourage applicants to address any interest and/or experiences they have with regard to this criteria.

Recommendations can be submitted electronically through the online application process or directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions at Suffolk University (please see the application for more details). The recommender should use institutional letterhead when available. Recommendation letters will not be accepted from any third-party agencies. Recommenders should include their full name, title, and a phone number where we can contact them if necessary. Applicants' first and last names should be included in the letter.

Applicants invited to interview weekend are required to interview with two different faculty members. Interviews for 2022 will be held virtually on February 24th and 25th, 2022.

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Additional Information

Applicants should have completed a minimum of five courses in psychology, preferably including a developmental course as well as courses in both statistics and research methods. Though not required, the program values the additional evidence of maturity, competence, and capacity for responsibility that comes from a broad range of work and life experiences. Thus, many students admitted to the program have engaged, after college, in both supervised psychological research and some type of supervised work in an applied setting.

Please note that while sealed materials (transcripts, recommendation letters, etc.) will be accepted with application materials, they must remain unopened. This method is strongly encouraged. These materials can certainly be sent directly to Suffolk University; however, it does create the potential for your credentials to be lost in the mail or otherwise not collected into your application package. The occurrence of this is rare, but it does happen, and may delay your application materials from being received by the deadline.

International applicants must submit successful completion of the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE-Academic.

Final admission decisions will be made by April 15.

Upon acceptance, each student will be assigned a program advisor. This advisor will guide the student over the course of his or her graduate education, helping to plan coursework as well as discuss research and clinical opportunities.

Courses & Requirements

Learn more about the classes, requirements, and different options available to complete the program.