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.
A pathway master’s is awarded upon completion of the Foundations course area.
The program offers optional concentrations in:
In addition, students may structure their elective choices to fulfill concentrations offered by School of Leadership Studies (SLS) doctoral programs. For the full list of SLS concentration offerings, see Doctoral Concentrations .
IECD graduates from this research-focused Ph.D. program will be prepared for several careers in research, policy and advocacy, and clinical/educational settings.