Child Development graduate program at Michigan State University

Child Development

Through innovative research programs and high quality education for students, child development faculty are creating new knowledge and training the next generation of scholars and practitioners.


Human Development and Family Studies faculty in child development focus on generating knowledge related to the behavioral, psychological, biological, and contextual processes that promote positive developmental outcomes in infants and young children. Through basic research and applied research and scholarship, we are engaged in the creation of new knowledge about early development that drives innovative theoretical perspectives and informs practice in support of optimal development. Our efforts as scholars and as educators are built around two core principles:

  1. Multiple contexts shape development, including biology, family, school, community, and culture 
  2. The empirically-based application of research to real-world problems is essential in promoting the well-being of children and families.

We invite you to learn more about these core principles by exploring the course catalogue and talking with faculty members.

Graduate Degrees Offered

Master’s Degree in Child Development, Research Focus

Students complete a 30 credit master’s in child development with an emphasis on preparation for continued study in a doctoral program. Students are encouraged to gain research experience with their faculty mentors.

Master’s Degree in Child Development, Professional Focus

Students complete a 32 credit master’s in child development focusing 1) evidence-based practice, including program evaluation, assessment of development and learning, and early childhood curriculum planning and implementation for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and curricular adaptations to meet the needs of diverse children and families; 2) the supervision and professional development of early childhood practitioners, and 3) the role of family in early education and development

The master’s program includes all course content required for the Early Childhood-General and Special Education Endorsement or ZS with the exception of HDFS 320 (which may be taken as a collateral course).  The ZS is an early childhood endorsement designed to accompany an Elementary Education of Special Education teaching certification.   

Doctorate in Child Development

Students earning a doctorate in Child Development complete a rigorous set of experiences in preparation for a research career in a university academic environment, research organization, or similar settings.

Undergraduate Degrees in Child Development

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies also offers an undergraduate degree in Child Development.  The Degree Program has two concentrations, an Early Childhood Education in a Preschool Teaching Setting or an Elementary Education Teacher Preparation Program.  More information can be found in the Undergraduate section of this website.

Early Childhood-General and Special Education Endorsement (ZS)

Experienced Elementary Education or Special Education Teachers can complete the Early Childhood-General and Special Education Endorsement or ZS through the Department.  We offer evening courses and laboratory sections are scheduled to accomodate your teaching schedules in the summer.  For additional information, please contact the ZS Advisor, Laurie Linscott at:  For more information, please visit:

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