Priority Deadline – December 15th    
Fellowship Deadline – December 15th  
Space Available Deadline – March 1st

Recruitment Dates: (by invitation only)

To be considered for a university fellowship or departmental funding, you will need to complete the application by our December 15th priority deadline. Applications received between December 16th and March 1st will be considered for admission only and on a space available basis.



Welcome to the Human Development Graduate Group (HDGG) at the University of California, Davis. We look forward to receiving your application. 

The graduate program in Child Development is a multi-disciplinary, two-year program leading to a Master of Science degree. This program offers students an in-depth examination of cognitive and socio-emotional development from infancy through adolescence and provides a foundation for careers in program delivery (e.g., Early Childhood; 4-H; Youth Development), teaching at the community-college level, or further graduate study. The curriculum emphasizes a balance of supervised practical experience, theory, and methodology rooted in the belief that educators and practitioners alike must have solid disciplinary foundations.

Our unique graduate group system takes an interdisciplinary approach, allowing students to study child development across:

Multiple Domains: Biological, Cognitive, Social-emotional
Diverse Settings: Family, School, Community, Culture, and Society

The benefits of the graduate group are that students can take coursework from various departments, work with faculty on and off campus from within and outside of HDGG, and focus on child development issues from a variety of perspectives. Faculty members with whom our students work include but are not limited to: Departments of Human Ecology, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Nutrition, the School of Education, the Center for Mind and Brain (CMB), the UCD Medical Center (UCDMC), and the Medical Investigation of Neurological Disorders Institute (MIND).

Diversity Statement

Guided by the UCD Principles of Community and the UC Regent’s statement on diversity, the Human Development Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis, is committed to an inclusive environment where all students, faculty, and staff are respected and appreciated. HDGG faculty and students seek to advance understanding of human development across contexts. We believe that a broad range of perspectives strengthens our efforts toward this aim. HDGG strives for a diverse faculty, staff and student membership and encourages applications from all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, geographic region, or socioeconomic status.


Our Master of Science in Child Development is a research-oriented degree. Applicants should have an undergraduate major in either biological or social sciences. Students with prior work in genetics, human development, psychology, or physiology are particularly suited to this program. The structure and content of the program presumes some prior knowledge in the processes of child development.

If you come into the master’s program without a background in Child or Human Development, Early Childhood Education, or Developmental Psychology, we recommend that you discuss background preparation with a graduate adviser so you are ready to take full advantage of the graduate level coursework in this program. Background preparation in the following areas is strongly recommended.  

  1. Course(s) in Infancy and Early Childhood (such as HDE 100A), and Middle Childhood and Adolescence (such as HDE 100B);
  2. At least one course in (human) genetics, biology or physiology (for example, BIS 101; NPB 101; PSC 121);
  3. At least one course in statistics, research methods or assessment methods (for example, HDE 120).

Financial Aid

To be considered for university and/or departmental funding, you will need to complete the application by our December 15th priority deadline. Incomplete applications are not reviewed. Applications received between December 16th and March 1st will be considered for admission only and on a space available basis.

Application Materials

The following items must be received by the appropriate deadline in order to be considered for admission. Information regarding deadlines can be found on this Application Deadlines page. Incomplete and/or late applications will not be reviewed.

  • Application, including fee. Information about fee waivers is on the Graduate Studies website.
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE is NOT required
  • English Language Examinations required of applicants whose native language or language of instruction at university was not English only
  • UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended. You will be instructed to upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application. For more details visit
  • Personal History
  • Statement of Purpose
  • OPTIONAL supplementary essay:  We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted individuals in a variety of ways.  If you believe that the pandemic negatively impacted your academic performance or opportunities, please describe in 150 words or less.

Application Process

The admission application is online.

Please see Grad Studies Application Process page for information on fees and waivers. The fee may be paid by credit card only. The fee must be paid before the application will be considered as complete. A fee must be paid for each application submitted.

Application tips:

  • The three letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically through the online application and be received by the application deadline. You should not have recommenders send letters in hard copy, but rather submit all recommendations online and before the application deadline. At this time, UC Davis is unable to accept letters of recommendation from a letter writing service.
  • GRE is NOT required
  • English Language Examinations should be taken and submitted per Grad Studies Test Score Requirements. Scores should be sent to UC Davis per instructions for each exam and must be received by the application deadline. Any waivers from English-only institutions should be requested in a timely manner
  • Transcripts can be submitted as soon as the online application website is available.
    • Only one transcript for each university or college need be submitted.
  • Unofficial transcripts can be uploaded to the application. Only admitted applicants will be required to submit official, hard-copy transcripts.
  • Upload your curriculum vitae or resume via the online application website.
  • To be considered for a university or departmental fellowship, you will need to complete the application by our December 15th priority deadline.
  • In the application, you will see this writing prompt for the 4000 character Statement of Purpose:
  • Please highlight your academic preparation and motivation; interests, specializations and career goals; and fit for pursuing graduate study at UC Davis.
    •  preparation and motivation may include your academic and research experiences that prepare you for this graduate program (for example: coursework, employment, exhibitions, fieldwork, foreign language proficiency, independent study, internships, laboratory activities, presentations, publications, studio projects, teaching, and travel or study abroad) and motivation or passion for graduate study.
    •  interests, specializations, and career goals may include your research interests, disciplinary subfields, area/s of specialization, and professional objectives.
    •  fit may include how your preparation, experiences, and interests match the specific resources and characteristics of your graduate program at UC Davis. Please identify specific faculty within your desired graduate program with whom you would like to work and how their interests match your own.
  •  In the application, you will see this writing prompt for the 4000 character Personal History:
    •  The purpose of this essay is to get know you as an individual and potential graduate student. Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, community service, outreach activities, residency and citizenship, first-generation college status, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how your life experiences contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity within a campus community and your chosen field; or how you might serve educationally underrepresented and underserved segments of society with your graduate education. This essay should complement but not duplicate the content in the Statement of Purpose.

Holistic Review:

The admissions committee uses a holistic review based on the guiding rubric found here. Based on the criteria in the guiding rubric, the admissions committee first considers the alignment between the applicant’s training goals and the program, as well as the applicant's scholarly potential/relevant research experience. Perseverance, academic preparation, and self-appraisal are also considered to offer a holistic assessment of the applicant's alignment with the program and scholarly potential/relevant research experience. Unique strengths and weaknesses related to the applicant's scholarly potential based on this review are noted and used by the committee to make admissions decisions.

Only complete applications received by December 15th for the priority deadline or March 1st for the space available deadline will be reviewed. 

Information regarding deadlines can be found on this Application Deadlines page.

Alumni Information

Alumni information, including thesis title and current position, is available here.

Contact Us

For additional information regarding admissions, contact Graduate Program Coordinator, Kim Berardi, or Chair of Admissions for HDGG, Meng Huo.

For general information about admission to graduate study at UC Davis, refer to the Office of Graduate Studies.