About

How do cognition, motivation, social interaction and culture affect human learning and development? These are some of the fascinating topics you’ll study through UWM’s Cognitive & Developmental Sciences Program.

This graduate-level program emphasizes the perspective of the developing learner. Graduates from this program have insight into the cognitive, emotional, and social changes in children, adolescents, and adults. Students should apply if they have an interest in:

  • Learning about social, cultural, and contextual influences on children, adolescents, and emerging adults,
  • Investigating core aspects of human development and cognition,
  • Understanding the connections between parents, peers, and youth over the course of development,
  • Understanding how people think and reason about the world around them,
  • Engaging with, or independently conducting cutting-edge research applied to a broad range of learning contexts — from schools to museums to home — throughout the human lifespan.

Students in the CDS program can pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in Educational Psychology while working closely with one of our faculty members. Graduates of the MS program go on to pursue a PhD (often in Educational Psychology or a related field) or find jobs in not-for-profit organizations and settings of formal and informal education, such as data analysts for school districts, program development and evaluation in community settings (e.g., museums, afterschool clubs and programs, cultural community programs). Many graduates of our PhD program pursue careers at research institutes and universities.

Why Choose Our Program?

  • You’ll develop a deep understanding of the psychological foundations of education and explore the latest theories and research related to human learning and development.
  • You’ll work closely with internationally known faculty who have a wide range of research interests.
  • You’ll be well prepared for jobs in education, research, marketing, program evaluation and more.

Interested in learning more about the MS or PhD degree in the Cognitive & Developmental Sciences program? Please come to campus for our information meeting. The meeting is informal and does not require a reservation in advance. However, please let Dr. Jacqueline Nguyen (nguyen39@uwm.edu) know if you plan to attend. Check our Facebook page/events for more information.

Program FAQ

Cognitive & Developmental Sciences Program Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Cognitive & Developmental Sciences Course Rotation

The Course Rotation Schedule (PDF) is intended to help you and your advisor plan your coursework schedule. Please consult the latest Graduate School Bulletin for course descriptions; you may also consult the UWM online schedule of classes for descriptions of courses offered during the current academic year.

Application Information

All application materials must be submitted through UWM Graduate School’s online application by the stated deadlines. Please note that these dates are different from the Graduate School’s application lock date. The CDS area reviews applications twice a year.

UWM Graduate School Online Application Form – MS

UWM Graduate School Online Application Form – PhD

Panthera will collect information about your educational background, transcripts, personal statement/statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, writing samples, application fee, and an application for a teaching assistantship, if you choose to apply for one (doctoral students must apply by the Fall deadline, for full consideration of funding).

Letters of recommendation are required for both the MS and PhD degree applications. Admission to the MS program encourages, but does not require, 2 letters of recommendation. Admission to the PhD program requires 3 letters of recommendation. These letters must be submitted through the application’s electronic recommendation feature by the recommenders themselves. Letters uploaded or sent by the applicant will not be accepted.

When you request a letter of recommendation, your recommender receives an email with a link to upload his or her letter directly to UWM. Doctoral applicants must submit three letters of recommendation. GRE scores are not required, though you are welcome to submit your scores if you wish to do so. In lieu of GRE scores you must submit a writing sample that provides evidence of your statistical competency. MS applicants may submit letters and GRE scores as additional evidence of admissibility.

All students must meet the minimum requirements for admission stipulated by the UWM Graduate School.

Contact Us

For advising, more information, or questions about the program

Jacqueline Nguyen, PhD
Associate Professor & Area Chair
Educational Psychology
nguyen39@uwm.edu

Questions about admissions?

Allison Hochmuth
Graduate Program Admissions Coordinator
Office of Student Services
(414) 229-4599
hochmuth@uwm.edu

Curriculum

Students completing the MS or PhD program receive an MS or PhD in Educational Psychology from the School of Education with a specialization in Cognitive & Developmental Sciences. These degrees do not lead to licensure or state certification. Graduates of the MS program may later pursue a PhD (often in Educational Psychology or a related field) or find jobs in education and/or research settings in the private or public sectors. Many graduates of our PhD program pursue careers at research institutes and universities.

The CDS Student Guide containing details for all program requirements is accessible at this link, for those with an ePanther ID.

Master’s Degree

The MS degree requires 30 credits, which may include up to 6 thesis credits: 9 credits of required core courses, 15 credits (5 courses) within the CDS program chosen in consultation with your advisor, and 6 elective credits that can be taken from a program other than Cognitive & Developmental Sciences. Courses are typically selected in consultation with the advisor to meet the student’s career or academic interests. In the final semester of coursework, MS students must pass a milestone for degree completion consisting of either a Master’s thesis (an independent research study) or Portfolio (students entering the program starting Fall 2019).

You can also participate in research activities with our faculty, although it’s not a required component of the MS degree program. Learn more about degree requirements on UWM’s Graduate School website.

Cognitive & Developmental Sciences MS Required Courses (PDF)

CEED-CDS Accelerated Master’s Degree Program

The Accelerated Master’s Degree is for students who choose an accelerated undergraduate path to earn a BS in CEED (Community Engagement and Education) and an MS in CDS in five years (rather than six total). Individuals interested in this degree program can visit the CEED-CDS Accelerated Master’s Degree Program webpage.

PhD

In addition to required coursework, you’ll work closely with faculty to develop research skills that will help you prepare for research and teaching positions in academic settings as well as other leadership roles that require expertise in development, learning and research skills. Faculty mentorship is centered on the development of a thesis topic that will become your dissertation. Additionally, throughout the program, you will have opportunities to gain research experience by working on projects with one or more of our professors. The PhD is granted upon a successful completion of program and Graduate School milestones, including a preliminary exam and successful defense of your dissertation research. Learn more about degree requirements on UWM’s Graduate School website.

Cognitive & Developmental Sciences PhD Required Courses (PDF)

Doctoral Minor

The CDS minor is for students in other degree programs who wish to earn a concentration of studies in learning and/or human development. A minor in CDS would be a particular benefit to individuals who desire added training in understanding the psychological underpinnings and contextual factors that influence child and adolescent understanding and interpretation of their learning or social environments or development across the lifespan.

Students must take a minimum of 9 credits (in addition to those required for the PhD) to earn a transcript-designated CDS doctoral minor.

Faculty

Research

Susie D. Lamborn, PhD, Associate Professor
Dr. Lamborn’s research focuses on adolescents and their families, seeking an empirically-based understanding of the normative development of ethnically diverse youth.

Chris Lawson, PhD, Associate Professor
Dr. Lawson’s research examines the development of generalization: How do children use what they have learned in one situation to make sense of new situations? The main goal of this work is to understand which examples and situations are the most likely to support generalization in young learners. To learn more about his research please visit his lab page.

Jacqueline Nguyen, PhD, Associate Professor
Dr. Nguyen’s research explores the ways developmental processes, such as cultural/ethnic identity development, transitions into college, or peer-parent-child relationships, are shaped by cultural contexts including immigration. She specializes in qualitative and mixed-methods research and working with community organizations. To learn more about her current projects, please visit her research page.

Career

Graduates of the MS program go on to pursue a PhD (often in Educational Psychology, Developmental Psychology, or a related field) or find jobs in not-for-profit organizations and settings of formal and informal education, such as data analysts for school districts, program development and evaluation in community settings (e.g., museums, afterschool clubs and programs, cultural community programs). Many graduates of our PhD program pursue careers at research institutes and universities.

The Graduate School provides a range of resources for student professional development on its website.

UWM also has a membership with The Versatile Ph.D. “the largest online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for PhD graduates.” This is a great resource for students who plan to pursue careers outside of academia.