Family and Human Development, PhD

Our doctoral program in Family and Human Development prepares researchers with a focus on social processes, family relationships, and infant, child, adolescent, and emerging adult development. Our doctoral program is designed for graduates to assume leadership roles as researchers and academicians in universities or other research-oriented settings, or as directors in public or privately funded mental health agencies, industry, or government. Doctoral students also can elect to specialize in a number of areas: social and emotional development, measurement and statistical analysis, and diversity science.

What makes our doctoral program unique?

  • Flexible model of graduate training, with many elective courses to choose from in developing your area of expertise;
  • Optional specializations in diversity science, measurement and statistical analysis, and social and emotional learning;
  • Coursework and training opportunities to conduct basic and translational research;
  • Strong support for cross-disciplinary training; 
  • Opportunities to engage in innovative research in local, national, and international communities;
  • Community partnerships with schools and agencies that serve children and families;
  • Strong emphasis on mentorship and professional opportunities  to support students’ development and career placement.

Did you know?

Our graduate training is world class!

  • ASU's Social Science Programs are ranked 24th in the World.
  • Our Family and Human Development Doctoral Program is ranked 3rd overall in North America.
  • Our Adolescence/Emerging Adulthood area is ranked #1 in North America.


In addition to the general doctoral degree track in Family and Human Development, students can focus and organize their elective coursework to reflect areas of specialization. At the present time, three areas of specialization are available: Measurement and Statistical Analysis (MASA), Social and Emotional Development (SED), and Diverstiy and Inclusion Science (DISI). Graduate students may concentrate their studies in one of these areas or may combine two areas to meet their specific research interests.

The PhD in Family and Human Development offers a training specialization for students interested in the study of Measurement and Statistical Analysis (MASA). Students choosing the MASA specialization will undertake in-depth study of statistical and measurement methodologies that offer great utility for research in human development, family studies, and education, among other areas. Faculty and students in MASA study, evaluate, and develop statistical and measurement methods applicable to investigating issues in family and human development as well as the social sciences in general. Students whose primary interest is in measurement, methods, and statistical modeling should complete the MASA specialization, along with additional coursework and research focused on quantitative methods. Students whose primary interest is in other substantive areas within FHD (e.g., social relationships, developmental processes) but who would like to develop strength in measurement and statistical analysis should also consider the MASA specialization.

How to Apply:
Applications should be submitted for the PhD in Family and Human Development with a Specialty in Measurement and Statistical Analysis. (information about the application process can be found at the bottom of this page.) Please see the Graduate Handbook: Program in Family and Human Development for a full description of the application process.  

Faculty affiliated with the MASA program and their methodological interests are as follows:

Dawn DeLay – social network analysis, dyadic analysis, interdependent (nonindependent) data, and longitudinal social relationship models

Samuel Green – structural equation modeling, assessment of group differences, factor analysis, and reliability

Masumi Iida – multilevel modeling of longitudinal and dyadic data

Justin Jager – structural equation modeling, latent growth modeling, pattern-centered analysis (e.g., latent class analysis and growth-mixture modeling)

Roy Levy – psychometrics, item response theory, structural equation modeling, Bayesian networks, Bayesian inference, and assessment design

Holly O'Rourke - mediation analysis and statistical performance of mediation models, longitudinal mediation models, latent change score models, structural equation models for longitudinal data, statistical power

Marilyn Thompson – structural equation modeling, factor analysis, measurement invariance, multilevel modeling of longitudinal and clustered data

Natalie Wilkens – longitudinal data analyses within a structural equation model framework


THe MASA specialization requires 18 hours total:

REQUIRED = 9 hours (assumes Multiple Regression and ANOVA as prerequisites)

  • Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis for the Social Sciences (introduction to matrix algebra, principal components analyses, exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, fundamentals of structural equation modeling)
  • Structural Equation Modeling for the Social Sciences (theory and application of structural equation modeling; path analysis, latent regression models, multiple group analysis, and models for longitudinal data)
  • Regression Models for Multilevel and Non-Normal Data (expectation operators, OLS regression, logistic regression, generalized linear modeling, multilevel modeling, centering)

ELECTIVES = 9 hours
*The below list is not exhaustive.

  • Advanced Modeling
    • Advanced Structural Equation Modeling
    • Pattern-Centered Analysis
    • Bayesian Methods
    • Advanced Bayesian Methods
    • Advanced Regression and Graphics
    • Mediation Analysis
    • Missing Data Analysis
    • Multilevel Models for Psychological Research
    • Experimental and Quasi-experimental Designs for Research
  • Measurement
    • Item Response Theory
    • Test/scale Construction
  • Statistical Methods for Small Group and Longitudinal Designs
    • Analysis for Small Group Designs
    • Structural Equation Modeling with Longitudinal Data
    • Latent Growth and Mixture Models with Longitudinal Data
  • Statistical Methods for Large and Complex Samples
    • Social Network Analysis
    • Large/Secondary Dataset Analysis
    • Sampling Theory

Appropriate substitutions will be considered by the MASA faculty if required courses are not offered within a reasonable timeframe (e.g., due to faculty sabbaticals or other leaves of absence). For students admitted for Fall 2011 or later, the three core courses for the MASA Specialization must be completed, unless an appropriate substitution has been approved. For students admitted prior to Fall 2011, submit a list of the quantitative methods courses you have completed or plan to complete and the quantitative faculty will review each case to determine if the requirements for the specialization have been met. For students admitted prior to Fall 2014, either Psychometrics or Structural Equation Modeling may fulfill the core requirement currently listed as Structural Equation Modeling. Completion of the MASA specialization requires that at least 9 hours of the requirements be taken within the Sanford School. All courses counting toward the MASA specialization must be completed with a minimum grade of B-.

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Marilyn Thompson, MASA Coordinator

The PhD in Family and Human Development offers a training specialization for students interested in the study of social and emotional development (SED) across the life span. Students choosing the SED specialization will learn about contemporary theories, methodologies, and bodies of empirical research pertaining to a range of issues in broadly defined adaptive and maladaptive processes in social and emotional development. Students may also become involved in research in other disciplines that informs the understanding of aspects of social-emotional development. Examples of such disciplines include family dynamics, intervention research, social networks, neuroscience, psychophysiology, and developmental psychopathology.

The SED specialization requires 18 hours total:

REQUIRED = 6 hours

  • CDE 598 Social and Emotional Development
  • CDE 612 Peer Relationships

ELECTIVES = 12 hours

  • CDE 534 Risk and Resilience
  • CDE 612 Gender Development
  • CDE 634 Prevention and Child Development
  • EDP 691 Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
  • CDE 698 Social-Emotional Development in Atypical Children
  • PSY 578 Development and Psychopathology
  • CDE/SOC 598 Social Networks
  • CDE 598 Play and Development
  • CDE/FAS 590 Readings and Conference (3 hours only)
  • CDE 598 Bullying/Aggression
  • FAS 598 Parenting
  • Others as approved

For additional information, please contact:

Gary Ladd, SED Coordinator
(480) 727‐6621

The PhD in Family and Human Development offers a training specialization for students interested in theoretical, methodological, and research perspectives on children, youth, and families from underrepresented groups. This specialization aligns with a larger Diversity and Inclusion Science Initiative (DISI) in the Sanford School. Students who choose the Diversity and Inclusion Science specialization will take two required courses. One focuses on theory and methods as they apply to the study of underrepresented groups (CDE 598: Introduction to Theory and Methods in the Study of Diversity and Inclusion Science) and a second course involves the in-depth exploration of issues related to study, biases, and interactions with underrepresented groups (CDE 598: Interpersonal Interactions and Perspectives in the Study of Diversity and Inclusion Science). Students who have interest in underrepresented populations in the field of human development and family studies, broadly defined by socioeconomic status, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability/health status, or other populations that are underrepresented, are encouraged to specialize in Diversity and Inclusion Science.


18 hours total Core Courses

REQUIRED = 6 hours (instructor approval required)

  • CDE 598: Introduction to Theory and Methods in Diversity and Inclusion Science. This course will provide an overview of theoretical frameworks and methodological issues as they apply to the study of underrepresented populations in our field.
  • CDE 598: Interpersonal Interactions and Perspectives in Diversity and Inclusion Science. This course will explore interpersonal experiences, biases, and strategies for working with different populations that are underrepresented in the field.


ELECTIVES = 12 hours

 *The below list is not exhaustive.

Sanford School Elective Courses

  • CDE 610: Gender Development
  • CDE 598: Latino Families and Children
  • CDE 598: Culture and Biology
  • FAS 591: Racial Discrimination and Racial Identity
  • CDE 598: Poverty
  • CDE 534: Risk and Resilience
  • CDE/FAS 590: Readings and Conference (1 to 3 credits)**
  • CDE/FAS 592/792: Research (1 to 3 credits)**

Elective Courses from other units

  • AFR 598: Women’s International and Human Rights
  • AFR 598: Peoples and Cultures of Africa
  • APA: Graduate Level Courses in Asian American Psychology
  • AIS 503: Contemporary Issues of American Indian Nations
  • JUS 560: Women, Law, and Social Control
  • JUS 691: Sexuality and Social Justice
  • JUS 598: The Social Construction of Disability
  • PSY 591: Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination
  • WST 502: Gender Research Methods
  • WST 602: Mapping Intersections Gender
  • WST 603: Engendering Methodology

*Additional electives will be considered by the Diversity and Inclusion Science faculty as they apply to this area of specialization. Students should submit the course syllabus and a memo explaining the fit of the course within the students’ diversity science specialization for courses not listed above.

**Students are encouraged to take up to three elective credits to propose innovative teaching, service, and research activities that contribute to inclusion and diversity science. Such projects will require supervision by a faculty member and can range from contributing to a course or seminar (e.g., lecture, activities), conducting a case study, supervising an undergraduate or conducting an applied project to enhance one’s experience with an underrepresented group, or developing a manuscript or research project. Innovative ideas proposed by doctoral students are welcome.

Completion of this specialization requires that at least 9 hours of the requirements be taken within the Sanford School. All courses counting toward specialization must be completed with a minimum grade of B-.

Each specialization builds on the basic PhD program in Family and Human Development but provides students with focused coursework and training in areas of strength within the unit. Opportunities to learn from expert faculty within and outside of the Sanford School are reflected in the specializations.

Students do not have to declare a specialization, but those who do will follow the guidelines for the specialization to ensure that training is guided and coherent. Each specialization is designed to enhance students' training and research, such that a programmatic area of expertise is developed.

The Core FHD Graduate Program Faculty are primarily responsible for training FHD doctoral students. In addition, students may also work with other Sanford School faculty members in Family and Human Development and Sociology. See the list below of research faculty members and their interests.

Robert Bradley*( – Family environments and children’s well-being, with emphasis on families living in adverse circumstances and children with health and developmental problems; child care, early education, and early intervention; parenting and parent education.

Jose Causadias ( – Culture, culture and biology interplay, cultural genomics, meta-research in culture, developmental psychopathology, cultural development and psychopathology, acculturation of immigrants.

Scott Christopher* ( - Premarital sexual influence strategies, sexual expression, and relationship development.

Dawn DeLay ( - Childhood, Adolescence, Peer Relationships, Social and Group Dynamics

Larry Dumka* (  – Prevention programs for families, influences on parenting, community-based participatory research.

Kit Elam ( -- Developmental psychopathology, behavioral and molecular genetics, parenting, gene-environment interplay within developmental cascades, conflict and violence in the family.

Steve Elliot ( – Scale development, testing practices, and validity of educational assessment systems, and (a) the assessment of children's social skills and academic competence, (b) the design and use of testing accommodations and alternate assessment for evaluating the academic performance of students with disabilities for educational accountability, and (c) the measurement of students’ opportunities to learn the intended curriculum.

Richard Fabes* (School Director) ( - Children’s early school adjustment, social-emotional development, peer relationships, temperament.

Samuel Green* ( – Structural equation modeling, reliability theory, and multivariate tests of differences in means, personality measurement

William Griffin* ( – Methods of Measurement; Computer modeling of dyadic and family integration.

Laura Hanish* ( - Interests: Development of aggression and victimization, peer interactions and relationships among girls and boys, school adjustment, intervention research.

Masumi Iida ( – Stress, coping, and social support in intimate relationships; daily diary methods.

Justin Jager ( - Young adult social role formation, individual and contextual (family, peer, and historical time) correlates of adolescent and young adult substance use, mental health, and risky behavior, structural equation modeling and growth modeling.

Stephen Kulis* ( – Interests: Health disparities; Cultural identity and substance use; cultural adaptation of prevention and intervention programs; racial and gender inequality in organizations.

Alexander Kurz ( - Opportunity to learn, teacher effectiveness, school improvement, and inclusion of students with disabilities in test-based accountability.

Becky Ladd* ( – social competence, peer relationships and school adjustment.

Gary Ladd* ( – Interests: Peer-family relationships; transition to school; social development.

Roy Levy ( – Psychometrics, item response theory, structural equation modeling, Bayesian networks, Bayesian inference, assessment design.

Sarah Lindstrom Johnson ( Adolescence, risk behavior, positive youth development, prevention and intervention, schools.

Sabina Low ( – Prevention of bullying

Carol Martin* ( – Gender development, development of stereotypes, gender roles, peer relationships and school adjustment.

Eleanor Seaton ( – Risk and resilience, the content and development of racial identity, racial discrimination, the interplay between racial identity and racial discrimination, Black adolescents.

Tracy Spinrad* ( – Emotion-related regulation, temperament, effortful control and reactive control, young children’s social-emotional competence and maladjustment, parenting, moral development, physiological markers of reactivity and regulation, and school readiness.

Marilyn Thompson* ( – Methodological issues in analysis of large data sets, structural equation modeling, modeling of longitudinal data, use/misuse of data to inform education policy and practice.

Monica Tsethlikai ( - Contextual, biological, and cognitive aspects of positive development in children with a special focus on how active engagement in cultural practices influence the development of executive functions in American Indian children.

Adriana Umaña-Taylor* ( – Ethnic identity development, risk and resilience, family socialization processes adolescent mothers, Latino adolescents and families.

Kimberly Updegraff* ( – Family and peer relationships in adolescence; gender and cultural socialization in Mexican origin families.

Carlos Valiente* ( – Socialization of emotion, stress and coping, family processes in the development of children’s coping responses.

Rebecca White ( – cultural and contextual influences on behavioral health risk processes among families and adolescents.

Natalie Wilkens ( - Social withdrawal; peer relationships; self-regulation; Ugandan children's resiliency; statistical modeling of longitudinal data.

Brandon Yoo ( – Cultural specific stressors and cultural identity development, particularly in Asian Americans.


*Faculty member approved to chair dissertation committees; all faculty members eligible to serve as chairs of master’s committees.


In addition, because ASU sponsors a graduate faculty model, faculty from academic units outside of the Sanford School may also be eligible to serve on the committees of FHD doctoral students.

For a current list of our eligible graduate faculty, please see

Each year, we have graduate students to be proud of!  For this reason, we provide many award and funding opportunities to our graduate students in order to recognize innovative ideas and outstanding students. 

Engagement Fellowship Award

Awarded to two Sanford School graduate students (one in family and human development and one in sociology) whose efforts reflect excellence in promoting and advancing graduate programs in the Sanford School. These awards are to be given to continuing students who have excelled in providing leadership in service to the Sanford School and its graduate programs in either family and human development or sociology. Each award will be a $300 fellowship awarded at the beginning of the fall semester. Each graduate committee will identify possible candidates and solicit self-nominations and a one-page (maximum) statement from each student identifying their qualifications and accomplishments related to this award. From these, the graduate committees will rank nominees and send forward recommendations to the director and associate director for final approval.

Innovation Research Award

Awarded to up to three continuing Sanford School graduate students whose research accomplishments reflect excellence in advancing interdisciplinary connections that are new and innovative. Each award will be a $300 fellowship awarded at the beginning of the fall semester. Each graduate committee will identify possible candidates and solicit self-nominations and a one-page (maximum) statement from each student identifying their qualifications and accomplishments related to this award. From these, the graduate committees will rank nominees and send recommendations forward to the director and associate director for final ranking and approval. Final decisions will be based on the degree to which the students’ research establishes new interdisciplinary ties and bridges areas of interest that are unique and cutting-edge. Students are eligible to win this award multiple times but each award will be given only for new innovation research collaborations and connections. 

  • Graduate Student Initiative Funding. This program was established to enhance graduate student learning and training experiences.
  • Intensive Summer Interdisciplinary Experience Graduate Fellowship. This annual award program is designed to provide summer funding for graduate students to obtain intensive training in areas that are not typically part of their programs of study in their degrees. The funds provide an experience that goes beyond the disciplinary training being received or significantly expands the already ongoing interdisciplinary work.

Currently, the programs in family and human development and sociology have several teaching assistantship (TA) and research assistantship (RA) positions. These positions require that recipients work 10-20 hours per week for faculty to whom they are assigned for the period August 16-May 15. The TA is responsible for contacting the faculty to whom they are assigned by the day their contract begins, approximately August 16. Selection of TAs and their assignments is a complex process and is based on meeting the needs of the courses, faculty, students and funding requirements.

Download the Teaching/Research Assistant Application form


Teaching assistant responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Grading class assignments.
  • Developing teaching materials.
  • Conferring with students.
  • Recording and posting grades.
  • Assisting with preparation of tests.
  • Proctoring exams for faculty.
  • Abstracting research articles.
  • Updating bibliographies.
  • In addition, TAs will give classroom presentations as requested.

RAs work with faculty members on research projects. Responsibilities are determined by the faculty member in consultation with the student.


TAs and RAs must maintain a GPA of 3.00 or above, be admitted with regular status to a graduate program, and must complete six hours of graduate work each semester towards on their program of study. Preference is given to those graduate students enrolled in the family and human development or sociology program in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Application Requirements

How do I apply to the Doctoral Program in Family and Human Development?

Applications are due by December 1st to begin the program the following fall. Admissions made for the fall semester only.

Follow these steps to complete the application process.

1. Graduate College Application

  • Complete the Graduate College at ASU application at
  • Request your official GRE and official collegiate transcripts to be sent to the Graduate College. The GRE institution code for ASU is 4007, and the department code is 0000.

Send official materials to Graduate Admission Services

ASU transcripts do not need to be sent

2. Other required supplemental materials

Submit all of the following materials online via the Graduate College Application at

  • Resume or curriculum vitae. Must summarize the academic and employment experiences of the applicant.
  • Personal Statement. Must be four to six pages, double-spaced, and address the following:
    • State your professional goals and reasons for desiring to enroll in this program.
    • Describe your strengths that will help you succeed in the program and in reaching your professional goals.
    • Describe, in detail, your research experience (include a description of your master's thesis if applicable). Describe the relevant responsibilities you have held.
    • Indicate your personal research interests as specifically as possible.
    • Identify two or three faculty whose research interest matches your own. Explain why you believe these are good matches (view faculty interests).
    • Include any additional information that you feel will help the committee evaluate your application.
  • Three letters of recommendation. Must include at least one from an instructor at the applicant's institution where undergraduate or graduate work was completed. These letters should be from people who know you as a student or in a professional capacity. Letters from family members or friends do not meet this criterion.

As part of the online graduate application you will submit the names and work email addresses for your three recommenders. Your recommenders will be sent instructions on how to electronically send their recommendations.

3. International Students – Required additional materials

International applicants must also meet all of the requirements and supply all of the information requested by the Graduate College at

How are admissions decisions made?

Admission to the Doctoral Program in Family and Human Development is competitive. Applicants will be short-listed based on a review of all submitted materials, including official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work, verbal, quantitative, and analytical GRE scores, statement of goals relevant to the doctoral program, three letters of recommendation, resume or CV, and complete application for admission to the Graduate College. Those applicants who make the short-list will be invited to visit in the spring for an interview. Final admissions decisions will be made following the interview.

Students are admitted for the fall semester only.

If you have any questions about the online application procedures or about the program, please contact:

Gina Perez, Graduate Coordinator

You may also schedule an online appointment with Gina. Schedule Online Appointment.

For additional information, please contact:

Kimberly Updegraff, Director of Graduate Studies

Degree Offered

Family and Human Development, PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Application Deadline

Applications are due by December 1st.



Family & Human Development (PhD) Handbook


Career Outlook

When you study Family and Human Development at the Sanford School, you'll deepen your understanding of human development as it relates to social interaction and behavior. You'll learn how to find solutions for major issues facing children, youth, and families in our society and to promote their strengths and well-being.

See what careers some of our previous graduates have chosen.

Tuition and Fees

The Program in Family and Human Development is very successful in funding our doctoral students! FHD doctoral students in good standing are typically funded for 20 hours per week (.50 FTE) during the academic year as Teaching Assistants and/or Research Assistants. Funding is usually provided throughout the doctoral career, contingent upon students' adequate progress to degree completion and availability of funds. This full-time assistantship includes a stipend, full tuition coverage, and health insurance.

For more information on TAs and RAs, please visit

International students must pass the SPEAK Test to be eligible for Teaching Assistantships. Please see for more information.

Research Assistantships and Summer Teaching Fellowships provide additional support for some FHD doctoral students over the summer.