A photo of the sunrise over Northeastern's Main Campus, with Bernard J. Brommel Hall in the foreground surrounded by orange, yellow and green-leafed trees and the Chicago skyline in the background.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Northeastern Illinois University has announced a new Master of Arts in Human Developmental Science degree program. 


Housed in the Department of Psychology, the Human Developmental Science graduate program provides rigorous training in psychological theory as well as the statistical tools for studying human behavior and development. The program is centered on human growth that includes physical, perceptual, cognitive, personality, social and emotional areas across the human lifespan. Individuals will engage with faculty in classroom seminars and on individually tailored research projects spanning core developmental areas from infancy to adulthood and aging.


Northeastern previously offered a graduate program in Gerontology. However, by expanding the program from the study of later adulthood to the entire life cycle, students can leverage multiple areas of psychology in theory and practice.


Amanda Dykema-Engblade is the Acting Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and former Chair of the Department of Psychology.


“The Human Developmental Science program is more expansive, which allows us to reach more students and leverage the expertise of our faculty members,” said Dykema-Engblade. “Instead of a distinct focus on end of life issues, students will be able to take classes and be engaged in research and internship opportunities that concentrate on development across the lifespan and the intersection with other core areas of psychology, such as Social and Cognitive Psychology.”


Northeastern will also offer the program as a new accelerated degree 4+1 degree program for undergraduate students to earn their Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a M.A. in Human Developmental Science in five years. 


“I’m extremely excited to provide more students opportunities to do master’s level research and projects with our entire faculty,” said Assistant Professor of Psychology Andrew Young. “Our 4+1 degree option will also be an amazing opportunity for current Northeastern Psychology majors who are seeking more advanced research and/or statistical skills and may want to attend top-tier Ph.D. programs.”


Dykema-Engblade and Acting Chair of the Department of Psychology Maureen Erber are pleased to offer this multidisciplinary degree program. The curriculum was developed after an exhaustive search of the kinds of psychology programs being offered in Chicago and surrounding areas, and shaped by the department to meet the needs of current students as well as professionals in the field. The program is intended to provide both breadth and depth in the study of human development and is unlike other psychology programs currently being offered in the city. 


“Our focus was carefully developed to meet the needs of our undergraduate students as well as to welcome anyone interested in an M.A. in Psychology,” Erber said. “This program will give students knowledge and skills to create a bridge for them to really dig into research and more fully develop expertise to make them successful graduate school candidates and build fulfilling careers.” 


The M.A. in Human Developmental Science prepares students to enter fields in private industry, government, academics and nonprofits that require an understanding of human behavior and quantitative tools. In addition, the program will help prepare students for doctoral programs that can focus on child, adolescent and adult development covering topics on emotion, industrial psychology, social decision-making, social behavior, biopsychology and cognition, among many others.


Associate Professor of Psychology Shannon Saszik is also excited about the program because she feels the flexibility of the program will allow students to build on their own strengths and identify the pursuits that challenge them.


“The program is built so that the students have more control over their learning, which helps to provide an educational experience that aligns with the values of Northeastern, including providing access to opportunity and empowerment through learning,” said Saszik. “Students in this program can really ‘own’ their graduate experience. The Human Developmental Science program is creating another way for the University to fulfill its mission to prepare a diverse community of students for leadership and service in a dynamic multicultural world.”