Psychology PhD (Developmental Psychology Specialization) |

Developmental Psychology Specialization Faculty

A. Wade Boykin is a Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in the Department of Psychology at Howard University. He is also the Executive Director of Capstone Institute at Howard University, formally known as the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (CRESPAR). Dr. Boykin has done extensive work in the area of research methodology; the interface of culture, context, motivation and cognition; Black child development; and academic achievement in the American social context. He is co-editor of the book Research Directions of Black Psychologists (Russell Sage Press), which was a finalist for the American Psychological Association’s Book of the Year. He is currently completing an entry for the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education, entitled "Talent Development Model of Schooling", and recently completed a co-authored book Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving from Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap (ASCD Press). In addition, Dr. Boykin has done research and evaluation projects and conducted workshops on topics such as school reform, culturally responsive pedagogy, and minority student achievement, for several school districts in this country and abroad.

Among his other selected professional experiences, he has served as a fellow at the Institute for Comparative Human Development and Adjunct Associate Professor, Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, Rockefeller University. He was Co-Director of the Task Force on the Relevance of the Social Sciences to the Black Experience, Yale University. Dr. Boykin is currently a member of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Educational Disparities. He is also presently a Research Advisory Panel Member for the National Minority Student Achievement Network and is on the Board of Directors for Project Grad USA, a national school reform organization. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Sage Publications Book Series on Race, Ethnicity and Culture and those of several scholarly journals. Dr. Boykin served on the President’s National Mathematics Advisory Panel advising the President and the Secretary of Education with respect to the conduct, evaluation, and effective use of the results of research relating to proven, evidence-based mathematics instruction in order to foster greater knowledge of, and improved performance in, mathematics among American students.

Debra D. Roberts, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor, Department Chair, and founding Director of the Cultural Socialization Lab (CSL) in the Psychology Department at Howard University.  She obtained her B.Sc. in Psychology/Neuroscience from University of Toronto, M.Sc. in Community Psychology from Florida A&M University, and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University.

As a developmental psychologist, Dr. Roberts’ primary area of research involves examining various aspects of culture and ethnicity as they impact the relationship between psychosocially toxic environments, otherwise known as PTEs (poverty, violence, discrimination, trauma, etc.) and psychosocial well-being among children and adolescents.  She has worked with diverse populations and has unique research experience with programs that target marginalized, vulnerable children and adolescents of color.  As someone of Caribbean descent who was raised in Canada, she is particularly excited about the prospect of working with youth of African descent throughout the Diaspora.  Her passion for research extends to the classroom, where both undergraduate and graduate courses motivate her to bring creative, innovative learning-focused instructional approaches to teaching.

The Ph.D. Program in Developmental Psychology Specialization

The graduate program in Developmental Psychology Specialization is designed to train students in all phases of the life cycle from infancy through childhood and adolescence to adulthood and aging, with a special emphasis on development among children and adolescents of color.  Upon completion of his/her degree, the student is expected to demonstrate both breadth and depth in their chosen area of specialization, and to have a strong background in seminal theoretical frameworks, research design, and statistical and behavioral assessment.  They should be knowledgeable of current theories and empirical works that continue to influence the field. 

Course Requirements

The minimum number of course hours required for the Ph.D. (including dissertation credits) is 72.  All students MUST complete the following courses toward completion of the Ph.D.  Students should consult the Rules and Regulations for the Pursuit of Academic Degrees, which can be accessed here.

PSYC 203       First Year Research (Fall Semester)

PSYC 207       Statistics I

PSYC 208       Statistics II

PSYC 205       Research Methods

PSYC 206       History and Systems of Psychology

PSYC 219       First Year Research (Spring Semester)

PSYC 225       Cognitive Development

PSYC 228       Personality and Social Development

PSYC 240       Research Methods in Developmental Psychology

PSYC 248       Practicum in Developmental Psychology

In addition to these 24 credits, students are required to complete one breadth course in each of our other areas (i.e., social, personality, etc.), for a total of three required breadth courses.  Please note that courses in developmental and clinical divisions do not meet this requirement:

The program also offers courses entitled, Seminar in Developmental Psychology-Psyc 237 and Topics in Developmental Psychology-Psyc 260* that provide a more comprehensive examination of current and relevant themes within the field. Students are expected to complete at least two 3-credit courses in this area. Topics for these courses have included: Race and Racism; The Black Child; and Life-Span Development. 

After successful completion of the written comprehensive exams and defense of the dissertation proposal, the final step toward completion of the Ph.D. degree is the oral examination of the written dissertation, which reflects the student's original empirical work.  Students must complete a minimum of 18 credit hours after admission to Ph.D. candidacy.

 *This course is not offered every semester. 



Department of Psychology Howard University

525 Bryant Street NW 

Room N-179, CB Powell Building

Washington D.C. 20059


A. Wade Boykin

Professor of Psychology

Program Details

  • Related Degrees: Ph.D.
  • Program Frequency: Full-Time
  • Format: In Person