May 18, 2024  
Academic Catalog 2023-2024 
    
Academic Catalog 2023-2024

Infant & Early Childhood Development with an emphasis in Mental Health & Developmental Disorders, PhD (with optional concentrations)


This PhD is a multidisciplinary doctoral program in mental health and developmental disorders covering topics such as trauma and neurodiversity, including autism spectrum disorder, learning differences, sensory integration, mood disorders, and cultural effects on development The program offers a unique link between various disciplines within a relationship-based developmental framework. The program was initiated by Stanley Greenspan, MD, and Serena Weider, PhD to promote research supporting relationships, individual differences, and development (DIR®) in working with infants, children, and their families. Using this as a foundation, the program continues to grow and expand as research in the field and in neuroscience broadens and continues to inform our understanding. The field of Infant and Early Childhood Development is exciting and highly rewarding. The first years of life lay the foundation for all domains of human development, including the basic relationship building blocks needed for the capacities to feel, love, adapt, and develop a sense of self. The program is interprofessional in structure, including mental health professionals (Clinical and counseling psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, social workers), Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, medical professionals (MD, RN), social services professionals, as well as educators and policymakers.

Students study multiple factors affecting an infant, child, and family’s well-being within a framework including mental health, education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language development. The faculty teach neurotypical and neurodivergent infant, child, and family development using a curriculum that includes physiological, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, reflective, behavioral, social, and cross-cultural perspectives.

The program provides a pathway master’s degree, and offers optional concentrations in:

  • Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationships (DIR®)

  • Reflective Practice & Supervision

IECD graduates from this research-focused PhD program will be prepared for several careers in research, policy and advocacy, and clinical/educational settings.

Required Coursework:


Effective date: 09/01/2023

Research & Statistics (16 credits)


One course chosen from:


Comprehensive Assessment Essay (4 credits)


Total Semester Credits: 79


Optional Concentrations


Students can optionally complete electives for one of the concentrations listed below. In this way, students can individualize their doctoral program and expand their professional expertise. Each concentration typically includes a minimum of three tailored courses and access to a community of scholar-practitioners who are passionate about this specialized field of study.

Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationships (DIR®) Concentration


The DIR® three-course series is designed to teach students the theory of relationship-based practice using the DIR® framework.  Students move through theory, assessment, and intervention approaches designed to serve children with neurodiversity, such as autism, emotional and sensory regulation challenges, and developmental delays, and their families. 

Reflective Practice & Supervision Concentration


The doctoral concentration in Reflective Practice and Supervision is designed to teach students the theory of reflective practice/supervision and how to apply it to their professional work experiences in clinical, educational, administrative, or organizational systems.