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PhD in Developmental Psychology


Research from faculty in the Developmental Psychology program is conducted in laboratories at New York University and the homes, daycares, schools, hospitals, neighborhoods, and community settings of the multi-ethnic and richly diverse city of New York. Additionally, international research is a cornerstone of the program, with faculty and students engaged in studying developmental processes and contextual influences across countries such as China, India, South Africa, Korea, and Peru. We work closely with our affiliated global faculty at NYU Shanghai and NYU Abu Dhabi campuses.

Student Research

Students participate in the research team of a faculty member of the Developmental Psychology Program (or another Applied Psychology faculty, by program approval), beginning the first semester of the first year. Students are expected to allocate half of their time (at least 20 hours per week) to this research team throughout their graduate career. Students are free to transition to another team or divide their time among two research teams during their doctoral training. Students are encouraged to have a secondary research mentor over the course of their study to acquire expertise across multiple areas and to publish with several faculty members.

Areas of Research Focus

  • The intersections of biology, culture, context, and human development
  • Individual, family, school and community influences on development
  • Cognitive, language, emotional and social development in infants, young children, and adolescents, including research on at-risk and international populations
  • The cascading influences of developmental skills across domains and time
  • Children's learning, academic achievement, and attitudes toward school
  • Identity development among children and adolescents from diverse cultural communities

Affiliated Research Centers and Institutes

Center for Research on Culture, Education, and Development

The Center for Research on Culture, Education, and Development (CRCDE) is dedicated to advancing knowledge on the intersections of human development, culture, diversity, and context in the United States and regions across the globe (Europe, Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, South America, and the Middle East).


The Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC)'s mission is to stimulate interdisciplinary research and influence social policy on children, youth, families, and communities in the context of a rapidly changing social world.

Metro Center

The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (Metro Center) promotes equity and opportunity in education through engaged science work: applied research, program evaluation, policy analysis, community engagement, and professional assistance to educational, governmental, and community agencies serving vulnerable populations.

Research Alliance for New York City Schools 

The Research Alliance for New York City Schools strives to advance equity and excellence in education by providing nonpartisan evidence about policies and practices that promote NYC students' development and academic success.

Affiliated Research Labs/Projects

CSRP Chicago School Readiness Project logo

Chicago School Readiness Project

Launched in 2003, CSRP is a federally-funded randomized control-trial intervention, which included low-income, preschool-aged children living in Chicago. The aim of CSRP is to improve preschool-aged children's chances of success in school. CSRP targets young children's emotional and behavioral adjustment through a comprehensive, classroom-based intervention in Head Start.

CSRP is currently following the children from the original sample through high school, offering a rich opportunity to model children’s trajectories of both their self-regulation and behavioral health from preschool through high school. The study is also exploring the impact of the intervention on college and career readiness.

Developmental Faculty: Cybele Raver, Ph.D.

lab members looking at photograph

Chinese Families Lab (CFL)

The project draws from both the Nanjing Adolescent and Nanjing MetroBaby study, which are longitudinal, mix-methods studies with over 1100 Chinese families and children starting in 7th grade for the adolescent study and birth for the MetroBaby study. The project is led by Dr. Niobe Way, Dr. Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Dr. Sumie Okazaki, and Dr. Sebastian Cherng from NYU, and is a collaboration across NYU, NYU-Shanghai, NYU-Abu Dhabi, University of Pennsylvania, and Southeast University in China. We are interested in how the changing social, economic, and cultural context influences Chinese parents' parenting practices and children’s development. The project has finished a ten-year follow-up from the MetroBaby project in 2016. Ongoing research papers under development include examining Chinese mothers’ and fathers' gender socialization, adolescents' gender beliefs and their academic achievements, gender beliefs and friendship quality, parents' workplace climate and families' mental health, etc. 

Mother with two children. One child has headgear on.

The Infant Studies of Language and Neurocognitive Development (ISLAND)

The Infant Studies of Language and Neurocognitive Development, directed by Dr. Natalie Brito is a developmental psychology lab interested in the impact of the social and language environment on early neurocognitive development. The ultimate goal of the lab is to understand how to best support caregivers and create environments that foster optimal child development.

cartoon of kids holding hands

The Latino Family Engagement and Language Development (L-FELD)

L-FELD is directed by Gigliana Melzi, Ph.D., and Adina Schick, Ph.D. L-FELD follows a partnership-based model, the investigations stemming from the team address the socio-cultural contexts of Latino and African heritage child development. In one set of projects, we investigate the ways culture, as transmitted in daily adult-child interactions both at home and at school, shape preschoolers’ development of school readiness skills, and in particular their language and emergent literacy skills. In a second set of projects (conducted in collaboration with Dr. Christine McWayne at Tufts University), we address the ways pan-Latino caregivers define family engagement in their preschool children’s education, and the relation between their engagement and children’s school readiness, including language, literacy, and social-emotional skills. Watch the video

Mindful Education Lab

Housed within the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, the Mindful Education Lab oversees two parallel but connected programs - research and teacher training. Our Mindful Research Lab looks at the psychological and neurological effects of mindfulness on student learning, teacher effectiveness, and school and classroom climate. This work, in turn, informs our Mindful Teacher Program (MTP), which offers professional development to schools by training educators (teachers, principals, school staff) in techniques to improve their lives both in and out of school. We also train high school students in mindfulness as part of the College Prep Academy, which prepares urban youth for success in college.

Educational interventions developed by Aronson and colleagues have been successful in boosting student achievement, well being, tests scores, and learning, and have been inducted into the Department of Education’s exclusive “What Works Clearinghouse,” a collection of school interventions of carefully vetted practices deemed worthy of using in America’s schools. Dr. Hill is among the nation’s most well respected and influential statisticians and methodologists.

The Neuroscience and Education Lab (NEL)

NEL is directed by Clancy Blair, Ph.D., and Cybele Raver, Ph.D. The lab focuses on the development of self-regulation throughout the lifespan, from infancy to adulthood. Using a multi-method approach, NEL aims to build a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which early environmental adversity associated with social and economic inequality shapes cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physiological aspects of development.

cartoon child playing with bubbles

Play & Language Lab

The Play & Language Lab, directed by Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, Ph.D. studies children’s learning and development across the first years of life, with a focus on how social and cultural contexts influence the skills that children acquire and how they engage with their physical and social environments. Our observations of children and parents in structured tasks and the natural setting of their home environments, provide us with rich video records for detailed coding of children, caregivers, and context.

Pach name inside circle

The Project for the Advancement of our Common Humanity (PACH)

PACH is directed by Niobe Way, Ph.D. PACH is an emerging think tank, funded by the NoVo Foundation and based at New York University, that is designed to engage researchers, policymakers, practitioners, activists, educators, artists, and journalists in a series of conversations focused on what we have learned from science and practice regarding what lies at the root of our crisis of connection and what we can do to create a more just and humane world. Presently, PACH entails a public lecture series and monthly conversations with 50 senior-level professionals.

Dr. Sirin's Lab

The lab of Selcuk Sirin, Ph.D., uses empirical research methods to better understand the needs of children and families, and to arm professionals and policymakers with this knowledge so as to better address the needs of the most vulnerable. The goal that unites all of his work is to enhance the lives of marginalized children using development in context as a general framework. Selcuk focuses on immigrant children in New York, Muslim youth in the US, refugees in Turkey and Norway, and students at risk in US schools.

Crayons with a coloring child in the backgroun

Strengthening the Architecture for High-Quality Universal Pre-K (NYU UPK)

Since 2014, senior leaders in education research and practice at both New York University and the NYC Department of Education Division of Early Childhood Education (DOE-DECE) have fostered a research-practice partnership to support the roll-out of universal pre-kindergarten through Pre-K For All improving the quality of its programming. The purpose of this partnership is to provide quantitative and capacity-building solutions to educational problems faced by the DOE-DECE.

Developmental Faculty: Cybele Raver, Ph.D. 

Faculty Publications

To find out more about a faculty member’s research, please visit their NYU Scholars page by clicking on the professor’s name below.