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. 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:

  • The importance of understanding positive developmental processes and primary prevention, promotion, and optimization, rather than remediation.
  • The need to take into account inter-individual differences and intra-individual changes across the lifespan.
  • The centrality of context, especially institutions, settings, and programs that promote positive experiences and characteristics.
  • An appreciation of the bidirectional relationship between knowledge generation and knowledge application.
  • Promotion of applied research and evaluation so that our work has direct implications for the decisions of individuals, families, schools, practitioners, and policymakers.

Program at a Glance

72 units

3–5 years

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 20 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)
Positive Organizational Scholarship (4 units)
Flow: The Positive Psychology Experience (2 units)
Positive Contexts (4 units)
Good Work (4 units)
Evaluating Developmental Interventions (4 units)

Required Methods and Statistics Courses (20 units)
Research Methods (4 units)
Directed Research Seminar: Applied Developmental Psychology (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

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:

Faculty & Research

  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi profile image

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

    Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management
    Founder, Co-Director, Quality of Life Research Center

    Research Interests

    Creativity and innovation, Flow

  • Jeanne Nakamura profile image

    Jeanne Nakamura

    Associate Professor
    Co-director, Quality of Life Research Center

    Research Interests

    Engagement, Mentoring, Positive aging

  • Stewart I. Donaldson profile image

    Stewart I. Donaldson

    Executive Director, Claremont Evaluation Center
    Professor of Psychology and Community & Global Health

    Research Interests

    Positive organizational psychology, theory-driven evaluation, organizational and career development, health and well-being

  • Tiffany Berry profile image

    Tiffany Berry

    Research Associate Professor

    Research Interests

    Educational program evaluation, K–12 educational curricula, After-school programs, Comprehensive school reform

  • Kendall Cotton Bronk profile image

    Kendall Cotton Bronk

    Associate Professor of Psychology

    Research Interests

    Adolescent moral development, Positive youth development

  • Kathy Pezdek profile image

    Kathy Pezdek

    Professor of Psychology

    Research Interests

    Memory and comprehension, Visual memory, Eyewitness memory, Suggestibility of memory, Autobiographical memory

  • Susan J. Paik profile image

    Susan J. Paik

    Associate Professor of Education

    Research Interests

    Educational productivity; Learning and achievement; Talent and leadership development; Urban and international studies; Underserved students; Family-school-community partnerships; Research methods and evaluation

  • William Crano profile image

    William Crano

    Oskamp Chair, Distinguished Professorship in Psychology

    Research Interests

    Social influence; Effects of persuasive information on drug addiction and HIV/AIDS; Minority and majority relationships to health information;
    Children and adolescent relationship to health information

  • Michelle Bligh profile image

    Michelle Bligh

    Interim Dean, School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation
    Professor of Organizational Behavior
    Director, Human Resource Management

    Research Interests

    Organizational culture, Leadership in corporate cultures, Charismatic leadership, Interpersonal trust, Political and executive leadership

  • Michael Hogg profile image

    Michael Hogg

    Professor of Social Psychology
    Chair, Social Psychology Programs

    Research Interests

    Social psychology, Identity and leadership processes, Group formation,
    Solidarity and cohesion, Group structure, Societal extremism

  • Michael Scriven profile image

    Michael Scriven

    Distinguished Professor

    Research Interests

    Philosophy, Mathematics, Evaluation methodologies, Critical thinking, Technology studies, Computer studies

  • Allen M. Omoto profile image

    Allen M. Omoto

    Interim Dean, School of Educational Studies
    Professor of Education & Psychology

    Research Interests

    Social psychology; Volunteerism and prosocial action; Environmental concerns; Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues; Civil engagement and civil society

  • Tarek Azzam profile image

    Tarek Azzam

    Associate Professor of Evaluation and Applied Methods

    Research Interests

    Social research and methodologies, Policy and program evaluations, Data visualization and evaluation

  • Eusebio Alvaro profile image

    Eusebio Alvaro

    Research Professor, Behavioral and Organizational Sciences

    Research Interests

    Social influence processes; Health promotion, disease prevention, and medicine; Minority relationship to health promotion; Mass media messages targeting health behavior change

  • Jason T. Siegel profile image

    Jason T. Siegel

    Associate Professor of Social Psychology

    Research Interests

    Social Psychology, Health Psychology, Persuasion, Motivation, Research Methodology

Where You Can Find Our Alumni

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Nicholas Lopez

Assistant Director of Admissions
T: 909-607-7151