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Human Development and Learning

PhD in Educational Studies, Low-Residency

Explore factors that affect human development across the lifespan.

If your goal is a career serving individuals in an academic, social, or political context, such as community and social services, correctional facilities, colleges, or governmental agencies, this highly regarded program will help you get there.

REGISTER: PhD in Education Virtual Information Session

You’ll advance your knowledge of the social, psychological, and biological factors that affect the development of human beings, with particular emphasis on adults. You’ll learn theories of human development, learning, and cognitive and emotional development. Explore developmental neuroscience, adult learning, adult development, and mental health. 

You'll also acquire a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary field of developmental science. Gain insights into how individuals change over time in real-life contexts. Examine culture and conflict, and organizational development and change.

During your studies, you'll conduct novel research and create new knowledge, all drawn from your personal and professional experiences. With faculty mentorship, you'll create a dissertation that explores your area of scholarly interest and inquiry. We'll encourage you to engage in the evidence-based thinking and self-reflection that will foster development throughout your career.

And by joining this low-residency program, you'll join a close-knit community of diverse learners who co-construct knowledge and support each other throughout residencies and online coursework.

Graduate Program Inquiry Form

Program Structure

Low-residency PhD program

45 Credits
PhD residency students at long desk


After receiving senior advisor and doctoral committee approval for your qualifying paper in the second year, you will be eligible to write your dissertation proposal and dissertation. The oral defense of your dissertation is open to the public. Year three is devoted to helping you write your dissertation proposal and dissertation. The program of study concludes with a public defense of your dissertation, doctoral committee approval and graduation.

Gain Skills and Expertise
Our PhD in Educational Studies program prepares you to:
Charles River with Boston skyline in the background

Cambridge, MA

Cambridge is located in the heart of a dynamic urban area near a variety of institutions and organizations, where you'll benefit from a unique concentration of diverse learners and teachers from all over the world. We are close to a number of other universities, where our doctoral students routinely participate in research and educational events.

"The Human Development and Learning specialization focuses on the process of human development and learning throughout the life-span in real-life contexts. It is an integrative and holistic program that unities theory and practice, and shares the vision of contemporary developmental science to promote positive human development. Students develop in-depth understanding of perspectives in developmental science in ways that are readily applicable to their practical and professional interests."
Ulas Kaplan, Professor

Stephen Gould
Dr. Stephen Gould
Steve is director of the Human Development and Learning and Educational Leadership PhD programs. He has over 30 years of experience as an assistant superintendent, principal, and teacher, and served on the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association for over 10 years. His expertise includes leadership development, organizational development, team building, strategic planning, and executive coaching.
Where You'll Work
Graduates of our PhD in Human Development and Learning are prepared for rewarding careers in a range of settings, including:
PhD in Educational Studies Programs


Total approximate cost for this PhD degree program. Tuition and fees are for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Human Development and Learning
  • Tuition
    $1,150/credit x 45
  • Fees
    PhD Matriculation Fees
    Residency Fees
    Comprehensive Fee
  • Total
Estimated Cost

All graduate students are reviewed for merit scholarships through the admissions process and are awarded at the time of acceptance. Other forms of financial aid are also available. Review all graduate tuition and fees, and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective in the Summer term.

Apply Now

Your degree is an investment, and we're committed to ensuring its value. That's why we offer the best education programs in Massachusetts at competitive tuition rates.
We'll help ensure your degree is as affordable as possible. Use our step-by-step guide to apply for federal and university funding. Scholarships, grants, Work-Study, and loans. It’s all right here.

Next steps to apply

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.