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Child and Adolescent Development (M.S. to Ph.D., Ph.D.)

Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus

Residential/On Campus

Concentration Overview

The Child and Adolescent (CAD) content area focuses on understanding how to support optimal development for children and adolescents and their families. Students complete coursework that includes developmental theories, research methods and advanced statistical analysis, socio-emotional development, cognitive development, and parent-child interactions. The doctoral program in CAD focuses primarily on theory and research training for graduates interested in pursuing academic and research careers.

  • Minimum GPA 3.0 (4 Scale)
  • GRE Required
  • TOEFL/ IELTS score Required  (If Applicable)

Learn more 

We are currently able to provide assistantship funding to all graduate students who make timely and satisfactory progress. All Ph.D. students that maintain full-time status and maintain a 3.0 GPA will be offered an assistantship (20 hours of work per week). Assistantships may include research obligations, teaching undergraduate level courses, or other administrative tasks. Students on assistantships receive a monthly stipend, tuition waivers/remission, and health benefits.

Find out what loans are available as a graduate student and other opportunities.

Domestic Application

*Fall: January 5

International Application

*Fall: January 5

*Deadline for admission with full consideration for funding:  January 5

Christine Kaestle, Child and Adolescent Development Area Coordinator
315 Wallace Hall
295 West Campus Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Cindy Smith, Director of Graduate Studies
303 Wallace Hall
295 West Campus Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Anna Nicole Weaver, Graduate Program Coordinator
366 Wallace Hall
295 West Campus Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Why choose this program?

  • Our faculty members in the Child and Adolescent Development (CAD) area conduct innovative and interdisciplinary research linking theory and methodology. The research currently being conducted draws from theories on attachment, ecological systems, cognitive development, socioemotional, sociocultural, and family systems.
  • The department provides students with a plethora of research opportunities, including experimental and observational research in laboratory settings, field research in the surrounding communities, and secondary data analysis.
  • Our students are also encouraged to lead research projects and publish in scholarly journals.
  • Our small program enables students to get individualized attention with award-winning and research active faculty. 
  • Numerous rewarding career opportunities are available for graduates of the CAD focus in the Human Development program. In academe, career options for graduates include teaching, research, and extension service. A wide range of career options also exists outside academe: program development and evaluation, policy analysis and advocacy work, and administration and supervision in private and public human services agencies are just a few examples.

What You'll Study

Students in the CAD focus take courses taught by CAD faculty, as well as faculty in other Human Development content areas, psychology faculty, and other faculty with expertise in research methods and statistical analysis. Students who complete the Ph.D. in the CAD area acquire a breadth of research training, equipping them to conduct independent research using a range of methodological and analytical expertise. Student programs of study typically include courses in:

  • Theories of Human Development and Family Science
  • Parent-Child Interaction
  • Socio-emotional Development
  • Cognitive Development
  • Sequence of statistics classes

Faculty Experts In Child and Adolescent Development

Our Graduate Students 

Child Development Center for Learning and Research

The philosophy of the CDCLR is grounded in social constructivist theory. This theoretical view holds that knowledge and understanding are constructed through social interactions.  Classrooms are inherently social places where teachers and children negotiate curriculum together.  Our aim is to offer a developmentally appropriate environment in which children are given opportunities to make choices, pursue their own questions, interests and concerns, connect what is known and unknown, and be successful as they explore and discover through play, informal learning investigations and projects. 

We are a child development research group interested in young children's emotions as well as the role that parents play in their children’s lives. This website has been designed to inform parents, students, and professionals about our research interests.

We are a research group at Virginia Tech. Our goal is to connect cognitive development and digital media technology to explain and support children’s learning.

In the Virginia Tech Learning and Development Lab,  we conduct research to understand mechanisms of learning and determine how to optimize the learning environment to improve children's understanding of key concepts. The lab's primary focus is within the domain of mathematical cognition in early and middle childhood. We also conduct research on the application of cognitive science principles within educational settings, broadly. 

Child and Adolescent Development Research Focus

The theoretically captivating research questions examined by the Child and Adolescent Development faculty have employed rigorous analytic techniques that have resulted in publications in top-tier academic journals including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Journal of Adolescent Psychology, and Social Development. Human Development and Family Science faculty across the focus areas of Adult Development and Aging, Child and Adolescent Development, Family Studies, and Marriage and Family Therapy often collaborate on research and service projects. Graduate students are often a part of research projects and subsequent publications through collaborations with HDFS faculty and faculty in other departments such as Psychology.