Human Development program overview

On this page: Director's message | Brochure | Program description | Distinguishing features | Contact

Director's message

Our program’s mission is to understand human development as characterized by different trajectories in both typical and atypical populations throughout the life-span. We seek to provide students with foundational knowledge of typical human development as well as an appreciation of the diversity of developmental trajectories. In addition, our program supports students to recognize how these diverse developmental trajectories situate learning in different social contexts.

The Human Development program offers a Master's Degree (MA) and Doctorate Degree (PhD) in Educational Psychology. The goal of these programs is to develop academic researchers who have prior research or professional experiences to conduct research concerning different disciplines of human development.

Through coursework and research apprenticeships, students are exposed to major themes that inform research and theory in human development. Ongoing interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research and development programs initiated by faculty provide rich and unique training opportunities for graduate students. The program places strong emphasis on research methodology as well as the application and communication of research knowledge. Using a mentorship model, students are encouraged to be involved with research supported by their academic advisors. As they gain confidence in conducting research, they also have opportunities to develop their own program of research.

Content courses offer in-depth views on the child and adolescent development including:

  • Cognitive, language, social, and personality development
  • Processes of learning and educational practices
  • Child-rearing and family influences
  • Social interaction in varied educational settings
  • Developmental theories
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Social policy issues

Alumni from the HD program have pursued their career goals in research and practice in Canada and other international communities. Take a look at some of our Human Development alumni profiles.

Dr. Chiaki Konishi
Program Director


Human Development Program brochure [.pdf]

Program description

The Human Development program offers separate MA and PhD degrees, with the PhD program designed as an extension of the MA program. When the MA and PhD are taken sequentially, the program typically requires a minimum of five years of full-time study. For those entering the PhD program with a Masters other than our MA in Human Development, an additional year of Master's level courses will be required. Such students typically take a minimum of four years of full-time study to complete the PhD program.

The program combines theory and research experience and follows a mentorship model that encourages students' active participation in empirical research and prepares them for academia and leadership roles in the field.


Visit the program's Courses & Timetables page for links to current course offerings and degree-specific timetables.


Please visit the Human Development Faculty page and the main ECP Research page to view websites of professors and research teams associated with the Learning Sciences program. Follow the links to individual research websites to learn more about specific research projects, graduate students involved in these projects, research and other apprenticeship opportunities, and funding. On the Research page, you will also find links to ECP faculty publications and full-text theses.


See the MA and PhD pages at left for program-specific information, application requirements and procedures. The McGill Graduate Calendar also provides further information about the program, including application requirements.


Would you like to see what some of our current alumni are up to? Human Development alumni profiles.

Distinguishing features

Strong emphasis on both research and application

The Human Development program places strong emphasis on specialized knowledge of different human development trajectories as well as strong research competence to critically evaluate research, and to design, conduct and report empirical research, and the application of research in varied educational settings.

A mentorship model to foster individual students' knowledge and skills

The Human Development program uses a mentorship model, which emphasizes the development of knowledge and skills through professional relationships. Students are initially sponsored into the program by a faculty member who shares their area of interest and agrees to fuction as program supervisor. This advisory relationship assumes importance as students decide upon their areas of professional specialization and develop thesis topics. Students become involved in their supervisor's research through participating in research groups, through graduate assistantships or externally funded assistantships, an involvement which typically leads to the development of their thesis research. Faculty work together with students on collaborative research, and faculty provide support regarding career development and dealing with professional issues.

Emphasis on developmental trajectories

The course is designed to give a strong foundational understanding of human development with emphasis on preschool, school age and adolescent children. Understanding children and their different developmental trajectories is necessary in addressing their diverse individual learning, social and emotional needs. Content courses offer in-depth views on the child and adolescent development including cognitive, language, social issues, and personality development, gender issues, and individuals with special needs in relation to processes of learning, problems and practices of education, child rearing and family influences, and social interaction in varied educational settings; developmental theories, developmental psychopathology and social policy issues.

Interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research

The program is one of many in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology. Through coursework and research apprenticeships, students are exposed to major themes that inform research and theory in the human development. The core Human Development program faculty have developed strong international reputations for their work with a variety of typical and atypical populations including children and youth with learning disabilities, externalizing disorders, depression, autism spectrum disorder, fragile X, downs syndrome and other developmental disorders. Ongoing interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research and development programs initiated by faculty provide rich and unique training opportunities for graduate students.

Where can Human Development Skills Be Used?

The Human Development program at McGill University prepares students to work primarily in school, institutional, and university settings. Our goal is to develop competent and inquiring professionals who have the skills to improve the educational and psychological well-being of individuals, to use research to critically inform practice, and to be able to conceptualize and conduct applied and theoretical research related to different trajectories of human development and varied educational settings. This model provides a basis for students to develop their leadership skills in Human Development. The goal of these degrees is to develop researchers, academics, and practitioners who specialize in all aspects and facets of Human Development.


For program-related inquiries and additional information, please contact:

For assistance or additional information, please contact:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Tel.: 514-398-4244

Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology
Faculty of Education, McGill University
3700 McTavish Street, Room 614
Montreal, QC  H3A 1Y2


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