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Pacific Oaks College    
2022-2023 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring addendum 
  May 25, 2024
2022-2023 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring addendum [Archived Catalog]

Master of Arts in Human Development

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Pasadena, Online, San Jose and *Off-campus locations

*The availability of Off-campus locations depends on enrollment


Total Credit Hours Required - 30 Credit Hours

Maximum Allowable Transfer Units Transfer credit and waiver of courses are not accepted in the M.A. in Human Development program.

Program Admissions Requirements -Program-Specific Admissions Requirements can be found here: Admissions Policies

Tuition and Fees Tuition and Fees for the College and individual programs can be found here: Financial Aid and Student Accounts Policies

Licensure Disclosures - N/A for the MA in Human Development

Program Overview

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.


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.

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 credits of core coursework; 6 credits of thesis coursework; and variable credits of concentration coursework and other program electives necessary to fulfill a total of 30 credits for program completion.

Fieldwork requirements

Fieldwork is required for all MA HD students. Fieldwork includes study and learning that consists of practical and applied activities completed outside of the classroom or typical learning environment.  Each student is required to engage in 45 hours of service at an approved fieldwork/internship site during the semester enrolled in the three-credit fieldwork course (HD671)


Six credits of thesis are required: Ground programs: HD 688A - Thesis Cohort A* (ground programs)  (3) and HD 688C - Thesis Cohort: Project* (ground programs)  (3). Online programs: HD677A (2), HD677B (2), and HD677C (2). Students who do not complete thesis by the end of HD 688C  (ground) or HD677C (online) are required to enroll in HD 699C Thesis Continuation (0) until the Thesis Committee formally grants approval.

Residence Requirement

It is expected that students will fulfill all degree requirements through courses offered at Pacific Oaks College.

Course Length 

Please refer to the program course and delivery section found here: Academic Calendar

Graduation requirements

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.

Number of Admit Terms Per Year

Ground: 3




Online: 6

Fall Sessions I & II

Spring Sessions I & II

Summer Sessions I & II

Areas of Specialization

Students in the MA in Human Development program are required to choose a specialization during the admissions process. The four program concentrations build on the core theoretical and skill development of the general curriculum and allow students to focus on a particular area of professional interest.

Pasadena and Online students are required to choose a specialization. Students enrolled at Off-campus locations will complete a designated specialization.

Early Childhood Education and Development

Ecological Perspectives of Lifespan Development

Leadership in Education and Human Services

Social Change

Early Childhood Education and Development

This specialization is designed for those who wish to increase their understanding of young children and enhance their skills in working with this age group. Courses focus on the Mastery/utilization of child- centered curricula, working with diversity in early childhood classrooms, and understanding the importance of social and cultural context to a child’s development. The program is tailored towards candidates who have taken foundational coursework in Early Childhood Education or a related field or have prior experience working with children.

Ecological Perspectives of Lifespan Development

This specialization is designed for those who wish to gain a holistic perspective of human development. Coursework focuses on different phases of the lifespan, from birth to the later years, and also addresses issues spanning across multiple life stages. This specialization is designed for students who wish to work in integrated, cross-generational settings, including family and community advocacy, as well as those who would like to work with adolescents, adults or the elderly.

Leadership in Education and Human Services

This specialization is designed for students in leadership roles who

  1. Work with adults in an administrative or supervisory capacity;
  2. Work with parents or other adults in community, family or social service settings; or
  3. Work as teachers of a college class or in other adult Education settings.

Coursework will focus on developing collaborative leadership skills, Mastery of interpersonal communication skills, team building, and understanding the nuances of working with adults in a variety of human and social service occupations.

Social Change

This specialization is for individuals who wish to acquire the skills to create large scale social change. The belief explored in this course of study is that one’s own personal growth and the act of evoking positive social change are interconnected processes and particularly so during times of national or global stress.

Students in this specialization will learn how to collaboratively design and implement change in an organization, school or community, and in society at large by making processes more participatory. Story-telling, dreaming, the arts, grant- writing, action research, the use of budgets and timelines, and autonomous community building are among the methods and mediums employed.

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