Areas of Study

Our Department offers two unique concentrations

Human Development and Public Policy

The 42-credit concentration in Human Development and Public Policy and the 51-credit dual degree in Psychology and Public Policy link students to Georgetown’s extensive network of policy scholars and programs, integrating a solid grounding in the theoretical, conceptual and empirical work that defines developmental science with rigorous instruction in quantitative and policy analysis skills, the policy process, and additional disciplinary perspectives common to policy studies, notably economics and political science.

In addition to the core requirements, students become well-versed in methods of policy analysis and program evaluation and gain direct experience in applying scientific knowledge to policy issues affecting human development.

The developmental element of this concentration emphasizes social, emotional, and cultural dimensions of development. Students who select this concentration take a substantial share of the core courses required for masters students at the McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP). During their first year, students take the existing Quantitative Methods and Ethics, Values, and Public Policy courses offered at the MSPP, as well as in other departments at Georgetown. They become well versed in basic processes of human development; highly skilled in research methods, statistics, and policy analysis; and well prepared to apply their knowledge and skills to real public policy issues affecting human development.

Graduates are prepared to assume positions as academic teachers and researchers, policy analysts, and research specialists in an array of policy, nonprofit, and other institutions, both national and international. This concentration maintains close ties with the existing Master of Public Policy (MPP) program at the MSPP.

Students in this concentration may apply separately and concurrently to the McCourt School of Public Policy to pursue a dual degree.

Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience

The 48/49-credit concentration in Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience integrates grounding in the theoretical, empirical, and conceptual scholarship that defines developmental science with rigorous preparation for teaching and research on cognition and its neural bases from a variety of methodological approaches. Students choosing this concentration may focus their own research on the behavioral/cognitive level to explore the processes of cognition from a systems perspective, and/or they may opt to use neuroimaging techniques to explore the brain bases of cognition. This concentration maintains close ties with Ph.D. programs in Linguistics and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN).

Students may focus their research primarily on normal any period of development (early/late childhood, adolescence, adulthood) or aging. Research questions may examine behavioral, neural, and/or genetic mechanisms underlying normal or disordered cognition and/or emotion. Regardless of their particular research focus, all students choosing this concentration gain a firm grounding in basic theories and methods of experimental psychology and in their application to investigating the brain bases of behavior.

Students also gain a broad background in neuroscience in order to participate in interdisciplinary research and to appreciate how neuroscience at all levels contributes to, and benefits from, research on cognition. Students leave the program well-prepared to assume positions as academic researchers and teachers in medical and applied settings, or if they elect to take courses in our public policy concentration, to serve as policy analysts and applied researchers in various organizations.

To foster a broad background in neuroscience and to strengthen graduate student ties across disciplines, during their first year, in addition to Psychology courses, Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience students take the Neuroscience Core course which is also taken by the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN) students. In addition, graduate students in Linguistics and in the IPN often take Psychology’s graduate core seminars in Cognition (PSYC-511) and in Cognitive Neuroscience (PSYC-512).