Positive Developmental Psychology Ph.D. Program (72 units)

Coursework in Positive Developmental Psychology includes a combination of required and elective courses from developmental science, positive psychology, statistics, and methodology. Together, these courses provide students with the theoretical, practical, and methodological foundation to pursue careers in basic or applied research, teaching, and/or service.

Positive Developmental Courses (44 units)

Coursework in the Positive Developmental Psychology program includes a combination of required and elective courses.  A sample of courses regularly taught includes:

  • Foundations of Positive Psychology*
  • Advanced Topics in Positive Psychology
  • Theories and Concepts in Lifespan Developmental Psychology*
  • Flow: the Psychology of Positive Experience
  • Good Work
  • Applied Developmental Psychology*
  • Child Development: Traditional and Positive Perspectives*
  • Adolescent Development: Traditional and Positive Perspectives*
  • Adult Development: Traditional and Positive Perspectives*
  • Positive Contexts
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • The Study of Experience
  • Evaluating Developmental Interventions
  • Positive Psychology Research Practicum

*Core Courses (20 units).  Choose two courses from Child, Adolescent, and Adult Development.
Elective Courses (24 units).  Choose from any of the above or other available offerings. 

To see a list of other courses which are typically offered in the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, click on the link.  Students are often encouraged to take elective courses in the School of Educational Studies, the Drucker-Ito School of Management, the School of Politics and Economics, the School of Information Systems and Technology, the School of Arts and Humanities, the School of Mathematical Sciences, or the School of Religion.

Required Methods and Statistics Courses (20 units)

  • Research Methods
  • Intermediate Statistics
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Multiple Regression
  • Categorical Data Analysis
  • Directed Research
  • One additional advanced Methods course

 Sample Elective Advanced Statistics and Methodology Courses

  • Advanced Qualitative Methods
  • Mixed Research Methods
  • Structural Equation Modeling
  • Hierarchical Linear Modeling
  • Meta Analysis
  • Survey Design
  • Quasi-Experimental Design
  • Factor Analysis
  • Analysis of Longitudinal Data

Field Experience/Teaching Experience (4 units)

Supervised Teaching Seminar or Field Placement

Transdisciplinary Core Course (4 units)

All Ph.D. students are required to enroll in a transdisciplinary course from the TNDY course offerings during their first three semesters at Claremont Graduate University.  Details may be found by following this link to CGU's Transdisciplinary Course page.


In addition to 72 units of coursework, all Ph.D. students are required to complete a portfolio of work. The portfolio is expected to represent a cohesive set of experiences that balance the students' training in their area of specialization.  For more information about the portfolio, click on the link (opens a .pdf).

Oral Qualifying Exams

When the student has completed their qualifying core courses and has had their completed portfolio approved by their advisor, they are required to pass an oral qualifying examination to determine their competency in their area of specialization. For further information about Oral Qualifying Exams, click on the link (opens a .pdf).


After all other requirements are fulfilled, including all coursework, the portfolio, and the oral qualifying examination, students submit a dissertation proposal for approval by their committee. Once the proposal has been approved, the student may begin conducting research for the dissertation. After data has been collected, early drafts of the dissertation are reviewed by the dissertation chair. When a polished draft has been approved, it should be circulated to an approved Dissertation Committee, who must approve the final draft before it is submitted to an outside visiting examiner. At least two weeks after the entire committee has reviewed the draft, the final oral examination is held. Any final revisions requested by the Dissertation Committee must be completed and approved before the dissertation is submitted to the Registrar for publication and the student is awarded doctoral status. Further guidelines regarding the doctoral dissertation may be found by following the link and looking under the heading "Ph.D. Forms."

Follow this link for examples of recent theses and dissertations completed by students studying developmental psychology.