The MA program in Human Development is designed to provide advanced study in theory and application of growth and development of individuals and systems across the lifespan. As Master’s candidates, students are immersed in theories of human development and in the biological, psychological, emotional, sociological, and cultural factors that contribute to an individual’s growth, development and sense of self in context. Students learn to critically evaluate the implications of these factors and serve as leaders and practitioners who support optimal outcomes for people and the ecologies where they develop.
Graduates are prepared to effectively apply human development theories and principles in their roles as educators, supervisors, leaders, innovators, caregivers and in other capacities in which they play an intentional role in the development of children and adults across the lifespan. This program builds competence in human development, knowledge of the social, cultural, and political contexts of development, communication, research, and the integration of theory into practice, to prepare graduates to lead in an array of settings, serving a wide range of individuals and families. The attainment of applied experience is critical to students who are committed to and engaged in their communities. To ensure this is accomplished Field Experiences at an approved site are a requirement of the MA program in Human Development. Contributions to the wider body of intellectual, experiential and applied knowledge are critical and the completion of a Thesis is required for successful fulfillment of the MA degree program in Human Development
Concentrations are additional areas of focus which are designed to immerse students in a more specific area of the developmental process. Some concentrations are available only in Pasadena. The MA concentrations are Early Childhood Education and Development, Social Change, Leadership in Education and Human Services and Ecological Perspectives of Lifespan Development.
Pasadena, Online, San Jose and *Offsite locations
*The availability of off-site locations depends on enrollment
The Human Development Department exists to foster individual growth and prepare students to become responsible child and family/human service professionals whose practice and understanding reflect Pacific Oaks’ mission to promote the principles of social justice, advocacy, respect for diversity and the uniqueness of each person.
Pacific Oaks offers the interdisciplinary M.A. degree in Human Development for the preparation of Leadership personnel in professions serving young children and their families.
Program Learning Outcomes
Development: Students evaluate, analyze and apply developmental and ecological theories to construct frameworks that effectively incorporate their self-constructed theories.
Diversity: Students value diversity and multiculturalism by demonstrating a commitment to social justice, equity and inclusion. They are able to identify, analyze and evaluate the dynamics and intersectionality of institutional and individual biases and how each manifests power.
Communication: Students implement, analyze and evaluate individual, dyad and group communications for efficacy, clarity, appropriate audience reception and authenticity. Students effectively use communication skills to support experiences of empowerment for self and others.
Research: Students demonstrate skills to effectively consume, analyze, interpret and create scholarly, research based work grounded in professional, social and personal contexts. Students work to address how their lived experiences are connected to research and how issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-bias are imbedded explicitly or implicitly in the research.
Praxis: Students implement a philosophy of learning reflective of developmental theories guided by observation and grounded in a lens of equity and multiculturalism. Students evaluate these actions based on results and their impact on other persons, groups and systems (ethics, values, principles and empowerment). Students create and implement developmentally and culturally appropriate practice with individuals and systems. Praxis will involve activities such as practica, fieldwork or student teaching.
Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution*
Demonstrated commitment to the mission and values of Pacific Oaks College
Number of Admit Terms per Year
Fall Sessions I & II
Spring Sessions I & II
Summer Sessions I & II
Completed Application for Admission
Official Transcripts from the Bachelor’s Degree Granting Institution
Transfer of credit and waiver of courses
Transfer credit and waiver of courses are not accepted in the M.A. in Human Development program.
It is expected that students will fulfill all degree requirements through courses offered at Pacific Oaks College.
Program Specific requirements
Prior to registering for classes each semester (fall, spring, and summer), it is recommended that students meet with their advisor to identify the appropriate classes to take and to review their progress towards degree completion.
The program requires 15 units of core coursework; 6 units of thesis coursework; and variable units of concentration coursework and other program electives necessary to fulfill a total of 30 units for program completion.
All M.A. and Credential programs require fieldwork or field experience appropriate to the program emphasis. Fieldwork is study and learning that consist of practical and applied activities completed outside of the classroom or typical learning environment.
6 units of thesis are required: HD 688A - Thesis Cohort A* (3) and HD 688C - Thesis Cohort: Project* (3). Students who do not complete thesis by the end of HD 688C are required to enroll in HD 699C Thesis Continuation (0) until the Thesis Committee formally grants approval.
Students are required to submit the Petition for Degree Completion and fee to the Registrar’s Office the semester before they anticipate completing their degree requirements. Students must submit the application, settle all outstanding fees with the Student Finance Office, satisfy any contingencies, and be in good standing in their program for the Master’s degree to be awarded.
Note: A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required for graduation.
Varies between 8 weeks and 16 weeks with the majority of courses in Pasadena offered in 16-week format and the majority of instructional site courses offered in 8-week format. A limited number of courses are also offered in one-week intensive format, generally in the summer.
Exclusively 8 weeks
Please note: Students register by semester for all courses/ sessions in that semester.
Classes generally meet in one of two schedule patterns:
Monday through Thursday with classes beginning at 4:00 or 7:00 p.m.
Weekends/ All day classes Saturday and Sunday three weekends of the term, generally once per month; ideal for long distance commuters.
Online - Asynchronous
The Master of Arts can be taken in a fully online format. Online courses are delivered in 8 week sessions. There are two sessions in each 16-week semester.
Students choose from among all available schedules (on-Ground and online)
Instructional Sites and online learning
Human Development sponsors degree programs in California outside of Pasadena at Instructional Sites. (Site locations can be found on the website).