Developmental Studies

Human Development

The program in Human Development is designed to introduce practitioners and future researchers to the application of developmental theory to education, construed in its broadest sense. The program seeks to emphasize the foundations of life-span learning and education across interrelated developmental domains (e.g., cognitive, affective, moral, social, etc.), while considering issues of cultural and social diversity.

The promotion of human development and competence is a mission of educators, and the program orientation is pragmatic as well as conceptual. Students develop an understanding of the basic dimensions of human development: a life-span perspective; the convergent impact of constancy and change; life stages; traditional and changing life roles; the impact of gender, culture, race, and socioeconomics; cognitive, psychomotor, and psychosocial development; and the meaning-making processes of ego and self.

The Human Development program bridges the divisions of the School of Education, and the traditional divide between basic and applied research. Students draw on a wide range of courses and opportunities offered across the School of Education, and the broader Boston University community. Indeed, the study of Human Development is directly related to issues of child advocacy, mental health, religion and spirituality, as well as social and psychological well-being, both from a domestic and an international perspective.

The EdD in Human Development is a two-semester course of study that aims to provide students with broad instruction in developmental issues, while allowing space for specialization based on the student’s particular interests. Specialization may be delineated in one of a number of ways, including by discipline, by population, by setting, by age, or by domain. Ample opportunity exists for structuring a program tailored to specific needs and areas of focus. All students learn diverse theories of human development and examine the distinctive issues involved in developmental research. Students are also encouraged to arrange field experiences under faculty supervision that apply developmental theory. In addition, other course offerings at SED and across the campus may enrich or support specialized study. Upon acceptance to the program, you will be assigned an academic advisor, who will work with you to design a course of study tailored to your particular interests.

Most students are expected to complete the Human Development program on a full-time basis; however, many courses are offered at times that allow for completion of the degree part-time, while continuing full-time employment.

Program Fast Facts

  • Program Requirements: To view program requirements and coursework information, please visit the Boston University Bulletin for the EdD in Developmental Studies: Human Development
  • Program Duration: The program must be completed within seven years.
  • Start Term: Full-time students may begin the program during the fall semester only
  • Licensure: n/a
  • Faculty Contact Information: Professor Kathleen Corriveau,, 617-353-3259
  • Graduate Admissions Contact Information:, 617-353-4237

Literacy & Language

The doctoral degree program in Developmental Studies with a specialization in Literacy & Language is designed for students who are interested in theory, research, and practice in literacy and language. You will engage in a course of study, research, and writing that integrates theoretical perspectives and research in the area and the implications for educational policy and practice and further research. Graduates pursue a wide variety of postdoctoral careers including leadership roles in elementary, secondary, and adult education; faculty positions in colleges and universities; professional posts in government, industry, and human service agencies; research positions in private and public agencies; and resource specialists in chosen areas of study.

The doctoral degree program offers you opportunities for concentrated study in areas such as literacy acquisition and development, assessment, and instruction; English language learning; language and literacy development of the Deaf; language development and disorders; and language socialization. The doctoral degree program includes a wide range of disciplines that are defined by:

  • Discipline: literacy, linguistics, psychology
  • Population: age or stage
  • Setting: college/university, school, clinic, home and community, or workplace
  • Domain: cognitive, linguistic

The majority of you who enter the program have completed a master’s degree in a related area such as education, linguistics, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), or English Literature. Those of you with different backgrounds may be required to take additional courses to acquire necessary background knowledge.

Doctoral students in developmental studies engage in research and other academic and professional activities related to the area of specialization. You will be expected to assess and critique standard research approaches in the discipline.

Program Fast Facts

  • Program Requirements: To view a listing of program requirements and coursework information, please visit the Boston University Bulletin for the EdD in Developmental Studies- Literacy and Language.
  • Program Duration: The program must be completed within seven years.
  • Start Term: You may begin the program during the summer, fall, or spring semesters.
  • Licensure: This program does not lead to licensure.
  • Prerequisites: This program requires a Masters degree or an international equivalent.
  • Faculty Contact Information: Professor Jeanne Paratore,, 617-353-3285
    Graduate Admissions Contact Information:, 617-353-4237

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students at the School of Education benefit from the community feel of a small school along with the resources of a large university. Our students are in the field in both urban and suburban schools as early as their first year at SED.

Graduate Students

Talented graduate students from around the world prepare to become teachers, counselors, administrators, and more in as little as one year at the School of Education. Our students engage in diverse aspects of education both in the classroom and the field.