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Adult Development and Aging (M.S. to Ph.D., Ph.D.)

Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus

Residential/On Campus

Concentration Overview

The doctoral program in Human Development with the Adult Development and Aging (ADA) option prepares professionals for participation in academic, research, governmental, and private organizations. Students complete coursework that includes developmental theories, developmental research methods, and development across the adult years at the individual and family levels of analysis, health, and advanced statistical analysis.

  • 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

Pamela Teaster, Adult Development and Aging Area Coordinator
203 Grove Lane
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

Our Graduate Students

Why choose this program?

  • 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 have opportunities for professional development and are encouraged to become actively involved by presenting at national and international professional societies in human development, family science, and gerontology. Two research centers, the Center for Gerontology and Adult Day Services, offer many opportunities for research and application of research-based practices.  
  • Our small program enables students to get individualized attention with award-winning and research active faculty. 
  • Numerous rewarding career opportunities are available for graduates 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 ADA area of the Human Development degree take courses taught by Adult Development and Aging faculty, other Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) faculty, faculty from sociology and psychology, and other faculty with expertise in research methods, statistical analysis, and qualitative methods. Students who complete the Ph.D. through the ADA area of the Human Development program acquire a breadth of research training, equipping them to conduct independent research using a range of methodological and analytical skills.

Student scholarship takes place not only in the classroom, but also through mentorship and research. Students may participate in wide-ranging faculty research projects using diverse methodologies and dealing with issues such as physical, mental, social, and financial health, familial and nonfamilial relationships, and community-based relationships.

Programs of study are individualized, permitting inclusion of significant coursework in specific subjects related to adult development and aging. Examples of courses that students may take include:

  • Adult Development & Aging: Individual Development
  • Adult Development & Aging: Interpersonal Issues
  • Social Policy & Aging
  • Theories of Human Development and Family Science
  • Sequence of statistics classes

Faculty Experts In Adult Development and Aging

VT Adult Day Services has been “Keeping Families Together” since 1992.  We are a center in the Human Development and Family Sciences Department at Virginia Tech that strives to uphold the University’s mission of Ut Prosim. Licensed by the Department of Social Services, we offer personal care, health monitoring, meals, therapeutic activities, dementia care, and recovery assistance. Our services support up to 18 participants each operating day, working with adults of an average age of 75 years old.

Center for Gerontology

The Center for Gerontology serves as the organizational unit and focal point for aging-related activities at Virginia Tech. The center’s primary mission is to foster and facilitate multidisciplinary research that enhances the quality of life of older adults. In support of this mission, the center focuses primarily on three streams of coordinated research: Family Gerontology, Health and Aging, and Elder Rights.

Adult Development and Aging Research Focus

Research questions examined by the ADA faculty are grounded in compelling theory and employ rigorous analytic techniques. This research is published in top-tier and well-established scholarly journals including Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, The Gerontologist, Journal of Applied Gerontology, Dementia, Journal of Women and Aging, Aging International, Journal of Marriage and Family, Family Relations, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Personality and Individual Differences. HDFS 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.