FAQ for Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology

  • Applied developmental psychology meets the urgent need for developmental scientists who can work with practitioners, educators, communities, and policy makers to generate data and design and evaluate programs that can promote the human condition at any point in the lifespan. ADP students acquire the skills to address formidable social and health disparities facing individuals and families who vary with respect to cultural and ethnic backgrounds, economic and social opportunity, health and access to healthcare, physical and cognitive abilities and conditions of living. It reflects a synthesis of developmental theory, research methodology, and intervention science to describe, explain and promote optimal physical and mental health, academic achievement, and psychological well-being within the multiple contexts in which individuals develop.

  • Throughout their coursework, research, and practica training at Fordham, ADP studies will be exposed to vision of applied developmental psychology as a tool for promoting social justice and socio-political well-being. This vision draws upon the faculty significant contributions to and ongoing programs of research aimed at understanding and ameliorating the effects of poverty, health disparities, and racial/ethnic, gender, sexual orientation and other forms of discrimination on individual and family well-being and in working with practitioners and policy makers to promote positive development throughout the lifespan.

  • For the 2023-2024 application cycle, the GRE (general or subject) is not required. The ADP program does not use any official cut-offs to identify viable applicants based on GPA. We carefully look at GPA, statement of intent, supplemental essay, CV, and letters of recommendation. Across these materials, we reflect on each applicant’s experience, fit with the program, and commitment to a balanced approach to doctoral training. Most applicants will have an undergraduate major in psychology, but this is not required, provided there is a solid background in psychology (whether during undergraduate studies or through MA-level coursework). Although we consider graduate coursework in assessing the applicant’s background and preparation for doctoral study, we place little weight on graduate GPA (because of the grade inflation that is common in MA programs). Despite these general guidelines, any area deficiency can certainly be overcome by strong achievements in other areas.

  • We systematically analyze a number of factors, including the student’s personal and professional accomplishments (e.g., research and applied experience), the quality of his or her letters of recommendation, and of course “objective” data such as GRE scores and undergraduate GPA. We seek to identify the top tier of applicants, in terms of both intellectual abilities and interpersonal strengths, as well as “fit” with our program’s model, strengths, and faculty expertise. This is done through a multi-tiered approach in which the applicant pool is gradually winnowed down to the handful who will be offered admission.  We select students with a strong dedication to, and experience in, applied developmental research.  A small number of applicants are then invited to campus for an in–person interview (or, when necessary, via telephone or videoconferencing) meet with three to four faculty members and at least one graduate student. Faculty and students rate each applicant based on their impressions during the interview, and these ratings are factored in to admissions decisions. Finally, all ADP faculty meet to discuss the applicants and to identify applicants who might have been overlooked by the actuarial approach, and/or those who may overlap too heavily with one another (e.g., to avoid offering admission to multiple students who seek to work with one particular faculty member). These rankings and faculty discussions are used to identify the small group of applicants who will be offered admission, those who will be placed on the waitlist, and those who should be rejected.

  • Applicants must specify a particular faculty member (or two) with whom they anticipate working in the admissions application. Although students are admitted to the doctoral program in general, not to a particular faculty member's lab, identifying particular faculty members is important in determining the extent to which a student's interests "fit" with the goals and strengths of the program. In addition, although faculty are not allotted a particular number of students, we do our best to balance the entering class to avoid having too many students working with too few of the faculty. However, it is not uncommon for students to work with more than one faculty member or to begin their career with one faculty member (e.g., for the MA thesis) and switch to another member of the faculty for the dissertation. Note also that students do not apply to the concentrations offered (Development within Family, School, and Neighborhood Contexts; Development within the Context of Race, Ethnicity, and Culture; or Health, Illness, and Well-being across the lifespan) but rather elect a specialization upon admission.

  • Students who enter with an M.A. degree or graduate credits that did not result in a degree may be able to transfer some credits toward their Fordham degree, at the discretion of the program director. Decisions about which courses are equivalent, and how many can be transferred depend on several factors, such as whether the student received an M.A. and whether the M.A. involved a research-based thesis. Specific courses that overlap with Fordham requirements are evaluated by the program director on a case-by-case basis, usually after a student has been admitted to the program. For those students who completed an empirical M.A. thesis at their previous institutions, the M.A. thesis requirement may also be waived, provided a committee of Fordham faculty have evaluated the thesis and deemed it comparable to what would be expected of Fordham students. Students who have previously completed (or expect to compete) an M.A. elsewhere complete the same application as students without prior graduate school experience and comprise the same "pool" of applicants; it is not necessarily advantageous or disadvantageous to have previously enrolled in an M.A. program, although it may be more beneficial in some cases (e.g., students who were not undergraduate psychology majors).

  • We strongly urge ALL applicants to apply for financial aid at the time of admission. Virtually all students in our doctoral program receive financial support throughout their graduate school career, whether or not it was guaranteed during the application process. Financial aid typically includes a full-tuition waiver and a work-related stipend (i.e., an assistantship). Assistantships can be research (e.g., if a faculty member has a research grant for which the student is well-suited), teaching (e.g., as a teaching assistant for undergraduate psychology labs), administrative support (e.g., assisting faculty in their own administrative responsibilities), or some combination of these. The type of award each individual receives will depend on available funds (which vary each year), the experience of the applicant, and the number of graduate students currently matriculating. Advanced students are typically funded as teaching fellows or teaching associates, where the student teaches one or more undergraduate classes independently rather than assisting a faculty member. Research fellowships and dissertation fellowships are also available (by competitive application) through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and allow the advanced student to further expand his or her research productivity. It should be noted, however, that if an applicant either declines or does not qualify for financial aid, there is always a possibility that he or she will be forced to pay tuition and expenses for one or more semesters.

  • No, admission to our doctoral Applied Developmental Psychology program is only on a full time basis.