Doctoral Program in Psychology, Developmental Psychology Training Area,

The Graduate Center, City University of New York


We are looking for talented and motivated students to join the Developmental Psychology training area in the Psychology Ph.D. program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York for Fall 2020.  


Students accepted into the Developmental Psychology program represent a variety of undergraduate specializations including (but not limited to) psychology, education, linguistics, philosophy, literature, anthropology, sociology, and the natural sciences. Applicants to the Graduate Center must have earned a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution. An undergraduate major in psychology is not necessary for admission, but undergraduate courses in experimental psychology (or research methods) and statistics are required. All applicants must submit transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions, a resume, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement of interests. The deadline for fall admissions is December 1, and interested students should apply to the Developmental Psychology training area. More information about applying can be found here:


Faculty members with interests in cognitive development include:


Dr. Sarah Berger – Dr. Berger studies the relation between cognitive and motor development, specifically how changing motor expertise shapes infants’ problem-solving abilities. Another line of work examines the impact of sleep on motor learning in newly walking infants.


Dr. Patricia Brooks – Dr. Brooks explores learning and development over the lifespan. One line of research examines individual differences in first language acquisition in children and second language learning in adults and focuses on how the input may be structured to promote  learning. A second line of research explores ways to enhance student learning in college classrooms, especially with regards to supporting the development of media literacy and critical thinking skills. 


Dr. Colette Daiute – Dr. Daiute studies human development in adverse environments, including migration, political violence, displacement, and extreme inequality. Dr. Daiute’s practice-based research focuses on language and digital media as mechanisms across the lifespan for interpreting and engaging in problematic as well as normative environments. Her recent book publications include Narrative Inquiry: A Dynamic Approach (Sage); Human Development and Political Violence (Cambridge University Press), and Minority Teachers – Roma in Serbia – Narrate Education Reform (with co-authors including her students R. Todorova and A. Ataman).  


Dr. Jen Drake  – Dr. Drake’s research program focuses on the psychology of the visual arts. In one line of research, she examines the emotion regulation benefits of the arts for children and adults, examining the advantages of expression versus distraction. In a second line of research, she studies the cognitive and perceptual processes underlying graphic representation in artistically gifted children. She also studies children’s and adult’s response to and understanding of works of art.


Dr. Kristen Gillespie-Lynch  – Dr. Gillespie-Lynch uses a multi-method approach to investigate strengths and difficulties associated with autism across the lifespan. In collaboration with autistic people, she develops interventions to transform societal misconceptions about autism and help autistic people succeed. These supports include autism trainings that have been associated with decreased stigma and increased knowledge internationally, a participatory mentorship program for autistic college students, and a computer game to help autistic people develop collaboration and complex emotion recognition skills. 

Dr. Yana Kuchirko – Dr. Kuchirko examines sociocultural contexts of child development. Specifically, she focuses on how children’s early experiences in their everyday settings (home, neighborhood, school) vary by cultural and socioeconomic contexts, and relate to later educational outcomes. Her current lines of research examine: 1) the role of neighborhoods in shaping ethnically diverse children’s cognitive development; 2) how the form and content of daily language interactions vary by socioeconomic status and cultural background and shape children’s cognitive development; and 3) what types of “funds of knowledge” children bring with them to school and how skillsets can enrich their learning experiences in classroom settings.


Dr. Karen McFadden–Dr. McFadden examines mother-child, father-child, and teacher-child interactions in relation to children’s cognitive, language, and social-emotional development, with a particular focus on contexts of socio-economic disadvantage. Dr. McFadden also has expertise in evaluation research on programs and policies aimed at improving outcomes for young children and families, including developing and training in early childhood assessments and observational measures, video-coding of interactions, and evidence-based practices for early childhood educators. She conducts research on parenting, child development, and early childhood education, and serves as an expert in children’s social-emotional development for the development of evidenced-centered early childhood formative assessments.


Dr. Virginia Valian – Dr. Valian works on gender equity and on the psychology of language. In gender equity, Dr. Valian performs research on the reasons behind women’s slow advancement in the professions and proposes remedies for individuals and institutions. She is the author of Why so slow? The advancement of women, and co-author, with Abigail Stewart, of An inclusive academy: Achieving diversity and excellence. Dr. Valian consults with institutions and organizations to improve gender equity.  In the psychology of language, Dr. Valian conducts research on young children’s acquisition of syntax and on the relation between bilingualism and executive function in adults. Her aim is to develop a model of acquisition that specifies what is innate, how input is used by the child, and how the child’s syntactic knowledge interacts with knowledge in other linguistic and extra-linguistic domains. She uses a variety of methods, including computer-assisted corpus analysis, comprehension experiments, elicited imitation experiments, and elicited production experiments.


Dr. Jennifer Wagner – Dr. Wagner’s work examines social and cognitive development in infants and young children using eye-tracking, physiological responses (pupillometry, cardiac measures, skin conductance), and neural measures. This work spans typically-developing children as well as those at risk for later developmental difficulties, such as infant siblings of children with autism. Recent work in Dr. Wagner’s lab with infants at high and low risk for autism is looking at relations between social attention and physiological responding in the first year of life and asking whether these early markers might be predictive of later social and emotional development and adaptive functioning.


Additional faculty in the Developmental Psychology training area study a broad range of topics using a variety of measures, and more information can be found at our website:


The Graduate Center is located in the heart of Manhattan and set within the large and multi-campus City University of New York. It fosters advanced graduate education, original research and scholarship, innovative university-wide programs, and vibrant public events that draw upon and contribute to the complex communities of New York City and beyond. Through a broad range of nationally prominent doctoral programs, the Graduate Center prepares students to be scholars, teachers, experts, and leaders in the academy, the arts and in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. Committed to CUNY’s historic mission of educating the “children of the whole people,” we work to provide access to doctoral education for diverse groups of highly talented students, including those who have been underrepresented in higher education.