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Doctoral research in Positive Developmental Psychology equips you with contemporary psychology expertise to design, implement, and evaluate social interventions aimed at fostering positive human development throughout the lifespan.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of the factors that contribute to human flourishing and well-being. You’ll research the positive developmental trajectories and processes that contribute to positive outcomes at both the individual and sociocultural levels, integrating that scholarship with research from developmental science, positive psychology, statistics, and methodology. The positive psychology program at CGU was founded by the grandfather of Positive Psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. At CGU, you will continue the good work began by late Professor Csikszentmihalyi with the only positive psych doctorate in the country. Led by faculty-scholars who are experts in the field, you’ll apply social science concepts and methods to important social issues through supervised fieldwork or teaching, preparing you to succeed in an array of organizations and institutions and to make a lasting impact on the lives within them.

Program Highlights

Our programming in Positive Developmental Psychology is built upon the following core principles:

Program at a Glance

72 units

5-7 years

*Actual completion times will vary and may be higher, depending on full- or part-time course registration, units transferred, and time to complete other degree requirements.

Fall | Spring

Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

PhD in Psychology

Featured Courses

Foundations of Positive Psychology

Introduces the history, intellectual sources, and main topics of research and application in the burgeoning field of positive psychology.

Theories & Concepts in Lifespan Developmental Psychology

Explores major theories of development over the lifespan and examines key issues in developmental psychology, such as the relationship between continuity and change.

Child Development: Traditional & Positive Perspectives

Surveys the theoretical and empirical literature on social and cognitive development in the first decade of life based on discussions of seminal research and theory.

Adolescent Development: Traditional & Positive Perspectives

Explores the nature of adolescent development in terms of biological, cognitive, social, and emotional processes and acquaints students with major research and theories in the field.

Adult Development: Traditional & Positive Perspectives

Provides an overview of psychosocial development in early, middle, and late adulthood from a lifespan perspective from both classic and positive-psychology perspectives.

PSYCH 351q
Applied Developmental Psychology

Examines the applications of developmental theory and research to contemporary social issues that impact the healthy development and well-being of children and families.


Core Courses (20 units)
Foundations of Positive Psychology (4 units)
Theories & Concepts in Lifespan Developmental Psychology (4 units)
Applied Developmental Psychology (4 units)
Plus two of the following:
Child Development: Traditional & Positive Perspectives (4 units)
Adolescent Development: Traditional & Positive Perspectives (4 units)
Adult Development: Traditional & Positive Perspectives (4 units)

Related Elective Courses (24 units)
Students are required to take an additional 24 units of Positive Developmental Psychology or related coursework, following an approved plan of study.

Recommended elective courses include:
Advanced Topics in Positive Psychology (4 units)
Creativity & Innovation (2 units)
Emotions (4 units)
Evaluating Developmental Interventions (4 units)
Flow: The Positive Psychology Experience (2 units)
Good Work (4 units)
Positive Contexts (4 units)
Positive and Inclusive Education (4 units)
Positive Relationships across the Lifespan (4 units)
Purpose at Work and in Life (4 units)
Science of Human Flourishing (4 units)

Required Methods and Statistics Courses (20 units)
Research Methods (4 units)
Directed Research Seminar (two 2-unit courses)
Intermediate Statistics (2 units)
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) (2 units)
Applied Multiple Regression (2 units)
Categorical Data Analysis (2 units)
PSYCH 315 Sequence: Advanced Methodology (4 units)

Field Experience/Teaching Experience (4 units)
Supervised Teaching Seminar or Field Placement

Transdisciplinary Course
All students are required to enroll in a transdisciplinary core course from the “TNDY” course sequence during their first three semesters at Claremont Graduate University.

In addition to 72 units of coursework, all students must complete a portfolio that represents a cohesive set of experiences balancing training in their area of specialization.

PhD Completion

  • PhD qualifying exam
  • Dissertation proposal
  • Dissertation and oral defense

In the Field Opportunities
Under the supervision of professionals with expertise in your particular areas of interest, you can participate in fieldwork, research, and paid internships at a range of organizations, including:

  • Claremont Evaluation Center
  • Southern California Edison Company
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Orange County Rapid Transit District
  • Riverside County Department of Mental Health
  • Institute for Research on Social Issues
Faculty & Research
Extended Faculty

Reed Larson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Interests

Developmental experiences in youth programs

Stacey N. Doan

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

Emotional, sociocultural and developmental influences on physical and psychological health; mind-body interaction; the effect of emotions and stress; social relationships

Rachel Fenning

Claremont McKenna College/Claremont Autism Center

Research Interests

Child and family contributions to social emotional development, biobehavioral regulation, and clinical outcomes in children with autism spectrum disorder and related intellectual and developmental disabilities

Where You Can Find Our Alumni

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Regina Burch

Assistant Director of Admissions
T: 909-607-9421