Human Development Programs

HDQM Division

The Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development (ISHD) program combines the study of social, emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects of human development considered within cultural contexts and relevant to social policies. The Penn Graduate School of Education’s commitment to urban education and its West Philadelphia setting offer students the opportunity to create a specialized program of study that leads to an enriched understanding of the diverse perspectives of human development across the lifespan.

Specialized options may represent one of the following career interests: traditional academic research; youth programming and services; urban and ethnic studies; adult development and learning; international programming (e.g., work with NGOs); foundation administration and program development. Master’s students who choose to write a thesis have the opportunity to conduct their own research under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Conceptually and methodologically, ISHD students are expected to integrate established psychological approaches with perspectives from other disciplines. Students are encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach to human development and may take courses in other schools at Penn. Visiting scholars and researchers share their perspectives and experiences in the ISHD Proseminar. The focus of the Proseminar, which every ISHD student attends, is to demonstrate how research is conceptualized, designed, and implemented. The collection, analysis, and communication of developmental data are also stressed.

Degree Programs

Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development (ISHD), Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.)
More about this ProgramThe one-calendar-year M.S.Ed. in ISHD requires a total of 10 courses (typically completed in two semesters plus a summer term) in lifespan human development, cultural studies, and research methodologies. The program is designed for pre-professional training and to prepare students to advance within their careers by gaining a better understanding of human development issues.

Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development (ISHD), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
More about this ProgramThe ISHD Ph.D. program prepares graduates for careers as university professors and researchers. Significant graduate-level preparation in human development or a master’s degree is recommended but not required for admission. Core areas of focus include developmental psychology, cognitive development, development in cultural contexts, and research design and analysis courses.



Xinyin Chen, Ph.D., Professor

University of Waterloo

Suzanne Fegley, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer

Temple University

Douglas A. Frye, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Yale University

Elizabeth Mackenzie, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor

University of Pennsylvania

Michael Nakkula, Ed.D., Practice Professor

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Howard C. Stevenson, Ph.D., Professor

Fuller Graduate School of Psychology

Daniel A. Wagner, Ph.D., Professor

University of Michigan

Sharon Wolf, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

New York University


Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Paulina Johnson
ISHD Program Assistant
(215) 898-4610

Elizabeth Mackenzie, Ph.D.
Division Manager
(215) 898-4176