Developmental Psychology

Section 1

Developmental Division

Program Description

The program in Developmental Psychology represents interests in many areas of development. Faculty and students focusing on the area of cognitive and linguistic development conduct research exploring infant cognition, conceptual development, and language acquisition. Faculty and students focusing on the area of social and emotional development conduct research on parenting and peers as well as school achievement and developmental psychopathology. Across areas, there is a concern with the underlying neural substrates of development and the role of culture.

Regardless of content area, faculty and students in the Developmental program ask how children change as they progress from earliest infancy through adulthood. Of particular importance are the causes of developmental change. Developmental faculty and students examine both how basic processes of learning and development enable children to develop fundamental adult abilities and the factors that lead children to follow unique trajectories as they make their way through life.


One of the primary goals of the Developmental graduate program is to train students to become independent researchers and educators. Graduate students receive their training through research, coursework, and teaching. Empirical research is a fundamental theme of the program. Within this framework, however, students may elect to concentrate on basic or applied problems, in laboratory or naturalistic settings. Graduate students may select from a wide range of course offerings. These include several core courses that lay the basic theoretical foundations of the discipline, as well as a strong statistics sequence. Students with a particular interest in statistics have the option of receiving a minor in this area. Minors in other areas, such as Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, or Social Psychology, are also available. In addition, the Developmental program offers a number of advanced graduate seminars custom-tailored to meet current faculty and student interests. There is also a weekly research seminar attended by all division members.

Facilities and Resources

Outstanding research facilities are available to our students, including five large developmental laboratories in the Psychology Building and a University of Illinois Child Development Laboratory Preschool with additional research space. Relations with local schools facilitate off-campus research. All students have access to a vast array of state of the art technologies as well as a high-end computing environment. In addition, devices for conducting developmental neuroimaging research with fMRI, EEG/ERP, and optical imaging (fNIRS, EROS) are available. 

Affiliated Departments, Programs and Institutes

The Developmental Psychology program is situated in a larger community of scholars who make important contributions to our students' education and professional development. The Psychology Department has strong programs in Cognition, Language, Vision, Clinical, Social-Personality, Human Neuroscience, and Behavioral Neuroscience. There are a number of other departments and programs on the University of Illinois campus that include faculty concerned with children's development as well as adult language and cognitive processes. In particular, the departments of Human and Community Development and Educational Psychology house a large number of research programs focused on children's development. Many Psychology faculty are also associated with the Neuroscience Program on campus. Cross-cultural research opportunities are available in China and Taiwan as well as other places.

Developmental Program Faculty

Renee Baillargeon, Alumni Distinguished Professor


Infant cognition, including physical, psychological, biological, and sociomoral reasoning.

Office: Room 613 | (217) 333-5557 |

Cynthia Fisher, Professor


First language acquisition; psycholinguistics; phonological learning; syntax and word learning.

Office: Room 619 | (217) 333-3545 |

Daniel C. Hyde, Assistant Professor

Daniel Hyde

Numerical, spatial, and social cognitive development in infants, children, and adults using brain (EEG,ERP,fNIRS) and behavioral measures.

Office: Room 621 | (217) 333-0631 |

Eva Pomerantz, Professor


The development of children's motivation and achievement in school. Major focus on the role of parents in such development, with an emphasis on the influence of culture.

Office: Room 611 | (217) 244-2538 |

Karen D. Rudolph, Professor


Individual differences in youths’ personal characteristics (e.g., temperament, social motivation, coping, neural processing) and contexts (e.g., parenting, family and peer relationships) that contribute to the development of psychopathology, particularly depression.

Office: Room 617 | (217) 333-8624 |

Christine Shenouda, Lecturer


Office: Room 631 | 333-9625 |

Lisa L. Travis, Lecturer

Lisa L. Travis

Office: Room 627 | 333-8086 |


Associated Faculty

Peggy J. Miller, Professor Emeritus

Peggy J. Miller

I am interested in socialization and the acquisition of culture in early childhood, with an emphasis on the role that everyday talk plays in these processes.

Jon A. Willits, Assistant Professor

Jon Willits

Learning and Cognitive Development, Language and Semantic Knowledge, Computational Models of Learning and Memory, Machine Learning Analyses of Naturalistic Datasets.

Office: Room 811 |



Facilities Information

Building Remodeling Projects

Click on the title to check out these pictures from the classroom remodeling project in the basement. A second project to replace the elevators will begin in September. Beginning with the freight elevator, each elevator will be out of service for three months. To get quickly from one floor to another, and improve your fitness, we will encourage the use of the stairs. The repainting of the northeast stairwell has been completed, and the painter is starting on the southwest stairwell.