Human development is an interdisciplinary academic field, and those who study this subject at the graduate level will often engage in critical dialogues outside the discipline. Students must consider the various changes that occur throughout a person's life, as well as the cultural and historical factors that may impact human development. Therefore, theory and methodology from biology, anthropology, and psychology are integrated into the curriculum in order to illustrate the fundamental forces affecting human development.
Advanced students who enroll in human development graduate programs will learn how to identify and evaluate the sociocultural, psychological and biological factors that contribute to human development. Additionally, graduate students will be immersed in theories and timely issues under discussion in the field. Their job is to challenge assumptions and stances made by their colleagues and well-known theorists as they develop their own understandings.
Why a Master’s Degree?
A master’s degree in human development opens doors for students who hope to enter occupations concerning the conditions that impact individuals’ development. As a general rule, human development master’s degree holders tend to secure high-paying jobs in which they have greater agency for change. Moreover, the experience students receive from this graduate program amplifies their ability to provide care, lead organizations, and conduct research.
In addition, the degree is a prerequisite for admissions into doctorate-level human development studies and can often be used to fulfill master’s degree requirements for doctoral programs outside of human development.
Inside a Human Development Master's Degree Program
Most master’s programs involve completion of roughly 36 credit hours and take students about two years to complete. However, the duration of a program varies considerably based on students’ obligations outside of school. Another variable is whether or not a department considers the master’s a terminal degree. If not, the student’s completion of course material covered in his or her master’s programs might simply fulfill the initial steps of the doctorate degree. These students can expect to remain in the department for six years or more.
Both online and offline programs require the completion of core curricula, electives and a final project (such as an internship). Interested students might come across some of the following courses as they explore various programs: ‘Cognitive and Language Development’, ‘Advanced Studies in Writing Our Stories: Reflections on Literacy Development’, ‘Gender and Relationships’, and ‘Aging in the Family’.
Most online human development graduate programs differ from offline programs only in that the schedule is more flexible and courses are taught primarily or completely online. Internship requirements must be fulfilled in the same manner as those in offline programs. In many master’s in human development online programs, students will need to meet in person with their advisor to gauge their progress and plan the internship.
What's Next for Human Development Master's Degree Holders?
Human development master’s degree holders are prepared for any number of occupations involving people, their development and the problems associated with this process. Common professions for graduates include nursing/caregiving, adult education, public affairs, and gerontology. Adult literacy and GED teachers support basic adult skills like writing and reading. They also tutor students working to earn their GED. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that in the median salary for adult teachers in 2014 was $49,590.
Those who earn a master’s in human development may venture into other related academic pursuits like psychology or social work. If students continue with the human development discipline, their next step would be to apply to a doctorate in human development program. With this level of education, students can enter research and teaching occupations of higher education.