Questions About Developmental Psychology

Thank you for your interest in developmental psychology at San Francisco State University. If you have any questions, please email Professor Jae Paik at, the concentration coordinator. Below are some responses to questions we receive frequently.

Why should I apply to the developmental psychology Master of Arts concentration at SF State?

Our graduate students tend to seek an MA in developmental psychology for three reasons. First, many of our students are seeking admission to a doctoral program in developmental psychology, family studies, or educational psychology, and we seek to provide them with the research experiences necessary to be competitive for acceptance into doctoral programs. Graduates from our program have gone on to developmental doctoral programs at Arizona State University, Columbia University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz, and Riverside among others. A second group of students are seeking PhD training in clinical or school psychology yet need more research experience and knowledge of human development. Graduates from our program have gone on to clinical and school psychology doctoral programs at the University of Texas at Austin, Northwestern University, the University of Miami, and the University of California campus at Berkeley among others. A third group of successful students are comprised of individuals who are seeking advancement in their psychological training but who don’t think they want to go on for a PhD. For example, many of our recent graduates are conducting data analysis, are research coordinators, engage in big data analysis, or work with nonprofit and start-up companies that work with children, youth, families, and systems that support diverse needs. Former students are employed at UCSF, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Google, and Gatepath.

What makes Developmental Psychology at SF State unique?

  1. In your very first semester, you will begin working with a faculty member on research by completing one unit of PSY 839. In fact, in each semester of your time in the program, you will complete one unit of 839 which will result in two straight years of research mentorship. All students in developmental psychology have at least one faculty mentor from our core and affiliated faculty.

  2. Also in your first semester, you will be in a preschool classroom collecting data from children using classic methods from the history of developmental psychology (e.g., Piagetian conservation tasks) as well standardized tests that are used in schools and community settings (e.g., Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test).

  3. In your second semester, you will begin working with a faculty mentor on the preparation of your Master’s thesis. The Master’s thesis is intended to be a project undertaken by a student that can be realistically completed with available resources. Some theses involve the analysis of existing data and others involve novel data collection. See this page for the MA theses that our students have produced.

  4. The science of human development is about methodology and statistical tools. In each semester of the program, you will receive statistical training that will involve using statistical program like R and SPSS.

What can I do with an MA in developmental psychology?

Our graduates get jobs! In a recent survey of graduates within the past five years, all were employed. For those who do not go into doctoral programs, our graduates’ employment is wide and varied. Many take jobs as research associates or data scientists at research firms like the University of California San Francisco, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Neilsen, and SF State’s Health Equity Institute. Other graduates go on to become program managers and serve as leaders in community agencies. We also have two recent graduates working in user experience doing big data analysis for Google. Of course, we also have many graduates who are faculty at community and liberal arts colleges, and R1 universities. 

What are the core values of SF State University?

Our faculty, staff, and students are dedicated to building a community based on SF State's Core Values:

Life of Mind