Lifespan development

The Lifespan Development program focuses on understanding psychological and physical health across the lifespan as well as the social, environmental, and cultural contexts that influence health and well-being. In this program you will learn about and have opportunities to contribute to our understanding of basic developmental and aging processes and the individual characteristics, contextual, and lifestyle factors that influence developmental and health outcomes at each phase of the life cycle.

Our faculty have expertise in cutting-edge research methods, including longitudinal design, analysis, and measurement and we conduct internationally renowned research programs in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging. Lifespan developmental faculty and students also engage in interdisciplinary research in the behavioural, social, biological, and health sciences to prevent risks and improve developmental outcomes, health and well-being across the lifespan.

Graduates of our program have gone on to pursue careers in academic and research settings, health-related institutions, and program development and evaluation.
For further information about applying (including on-line application forms), visit the Department's graduate admissions page.

Core faculty

Affiliated faculty

Research Methods in Lifespan Psychology (PSYC 560)
A critical examination of research designs and analytical approaches for understanding developmental and aging-related change and variation.  Includes cross-sectional, longitudinal, sequential, experimental, and qualitative approaches.

History and Theories in Lifespan Psychology (PSYC 561)
Seminar review of the major classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives and their implications for the study of psychological development across the lifespan. Emphasis on differences among theoretical perspectives with respect to central developmental issues such as concepts of change, sources of development, and the universality of developmental laws and findings.

Infancy and Childhood (PSYC 562)
Seminar review of theory and research examining psychological development from infancy through childhood. Special topics include personality/temperament, representation, language, attachment, parent-child relations, and socialization process.

Adult Development and Aging (PSYC 563)
Seminar review of theory and research examining psychological processes during adulthood and aging. Specific topics include memory, intelligence, problem solving, personality, social processes, and mental health. Attention is also given to the biological and sociocultural contexts of these developments.

Advanced Analysis of Change and Variation in Lifespan Development (PSYC 564)
Focuses on the general linear mixed model for repeated measurements and other nested data structures. Multilevel and structural equation models will be examined and applied to longitudinal data. May include time invariant and time-varying covariates, evaluation of alternative time structures, change in factor-level outcomes, analysis with attrition and mortality, and joint models of change.

Cognitive Development in Adulthood and Aging (PSYC 565)
Seminar review of theory and research examining gains and losses in various cognitive skills from young adulthood to old age. Traditional experimental, psychometric, and cognitive science approaches are considered. Specific topics include age-related change in memory, intelligence, problem solving, reading skills, and as well as practical and social cognition.

Personality and Adjustment in Adulthood and Aging (PSYC 566)
Seminar review of theory and research examining personality change, stress, coping, and adjustment across the adult lifespan. Specific topics include the cases for and against personality change, personality as a mediator of other behavior, stress, coping, life events, and mental health in adulthood.

Dysfunctional Development in Adulthood and Aging (PSYC 567)
Seminar review of theory and research examining dysfunctional and pathological processes in later life. Specific topics include dementia, depression, personality disorders, alcoholism and other addictions, and suicide. Attention will be given to issues of etiology, diagnosis, treatment, and impact on caregivers.

Adolescence (PSYC 568)
Seminar review of theory and research examining psychological processes during adolescence. Specific topics include pubertal maturation, parent-adolescent relations, gender roles, sexuality, and problem behavior. Attention will be given to the role of the context (e.g., family, school) in adolescent development.

Special Topics in Lifespan Development (PSYC 569)
Topical seminars on specialized issues related to lifespan development and aging. Topics may include: Developmental Psychopathology; Early Social and Emotional Development; Cognitive Development in Childhood and Adolescence; Culture & Cognition; Development During Midlife.

This program is directed toward a PhD degree. Students must first obtain an MA or MSc degree as an intermediate step. This usually requires two years of study beyond the baccalaureate degree, a research apprenticeship with a faculty member, and thesis.

The doctoral degree requires at least two years of study beyond the master's degree, comprehensive examinations in the candidate's major and minor areas of study, and a dissertation.

Students participate in core seminars (MSc: PSYC 560, PSYC 561, one of PSYC 562, PSYC 563, or PSYC 568; Ph.D: PSYC 564, two of PSYC 562, 563, or PSYC 568) designed to develop expertise related to theoretical, methodological and empirical issues in lifespan development.

Beyond these core seminars, students collaborate with their faculty committee to develop a program of additional courses, individual study, research, and practicum experiences designed to develop competence in the student's chosen area of specialization. We endorse an apprenticeship model of graduate training in which students work closely with a faculty mentor.

Some former students: Where are they now?

Lifespan Graduate Alumni

Jennifer Saltzman (Lalonde), Ph.D. 2001
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
University of Toronto

Stuart MacDonald (Hultsch), Ph.D. 2003
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
University of Victoria

Monika Brandstätter (Lalonde), M.A. 2004
Registered Clinical Counsellor
Heart of the Matter Counselling

Wendy Hoglund (Leadbeater), Ph.D. 2005
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
University of Alberta
Edmonton Alberta

Robin Yates (Lalonde), M.Sc. 2007
Manager of Communicable Disease Prevention Policy
Public Health Services
BC Ministry of Health

Dana Liebermann (Mueller), Ph.D. 2008
Sr. Manager of Research and Evidence-Based Practice
Waterloo Region District School Board
Waterloo, ON

Allison Bielak (Hultsch), Ph.D. 2008
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO

Gerald Giesbrecht (Mueller), Ph.D. 2008
Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics
Alberta Children’s Hospital
Calgary

Janet Love (Tuokko) MSc 2009
Senior Analyst
BC Stats in Performance, Measurement and Reporting
Victoria, BC

Michael Miller (Mueller), Ph.D. 2011
Research Associate, Division of Children's Health & Therapeutics, Children's Health Research Institute and Department of Paediatrics, Western University

Sumin Na (Lalonde), M.Sc. 2012
Doctoral Candidate
Counselling Psychology
McGill University

Naomi Sklar (Leadbeater), M.Sc. 2012
Clinical Research Coordinator
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Toronto

Tania Smethurst (Lalonde), M.Sc. 2012
Educational Advisor
Office of Aboriginal Education
Vancouver Island University

James W. Allen (Lalonde), Ph.D. 2013
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Trent University

Kayla Ten Eycke (Mueller), Ph.D. 2013
Postdoctoral fellow
Alberta Children’s Hospital
Calgary

Kara Thompson (Stockwell), Ph.D. 2013
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology
St. Francis Xavier University

Rachel Yeung Thompson (Leadbeater), Ph.D. 2013
Manager of Monitoring
Office of the Representative for Children and Youth
Victoria, BC

Sharon Chan (Mueller), M.Sc. 2014
Graduate Student
School Clinical Child Psychology
Ontario Institute for the Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Sarah Hutchison (Mueller), Ph.D. 2015
Postdoctoral Fellow
Child and Family Research Institute / Brain Canada and NeuroDevNet
Department of Pediatrics
University of British Columbia

Paweena Sukhawanthanakul (Leadbeater) Ph.D. 2016
SSHRC Postdoctoral fellow
Centre on Aging at the University of Manitoba

Former Clinical Students Supervised by Lifespan Faculty

Alana Hager (Leadbeater), Ph.D. 2014
Primary Therapist
Eating Recovery Center
Denver, Colorado, USA.

Paul Brewster (MacDonald), Ph.D. 2015
Psychometrist
Vancouver Island Health Authority
Nanaimo, BC

Tracey Desjardin (Leadbeater), Ph.D. 2015
Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care
St. Thomas, ON

Correne DeCarlo (MacDonald/Tuokko), Ph.D. 2016
Clinical Neuropsychologist
Private Practice
Calgary, AB

Christie Yao (MacDonald), M.Sc. 2009 (Ph.D. in 2016 from York University)
Postdoctoral Fellow in Clinical Neuropsychology
St. Joseph's Healthcare
Hamilton, ON

If you have questions about our program, or would like more information, please contact:

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