Qualifying Exams

The purpose of the qualifying exam in the Developmental Psychology Program is to provide students a space to demonstrate their mastery of core topics in developmental psychology and those research issues related to their specific areas of interest and inquiry goals. Qualifying exams are scheduled three times each year; generally they are held the first weeks of November, April, and August. Students must contact the Developmental Program Director each semester to confirm they are eligible to sit for qualifying exams and to confirm the exact day the exam will be held.

Again, it is extremely important that students review the Departmental Requirements in terms of timetable for the exam and submitting materials. UGS has specific regulations regarding when and the number of times a student is allowed to take the exam.


The qualifying exams require students to respond to questions using an essay format. The questions are selected by the core Developmental Faculty members and are drawn from required program course content. The questions typically cover three areas including: (1) theory; (2) research methods; and (3) area of specialization. Students are given four to five questions for each area, and are required to answer one theory, two research methods, and one specialization question. For preparation /graduate-curriculum/quals-resources/, students should contact their major professor.

Students must take the exam in a room secured by the Developmental Program Director. The exam begins at 9:00am and continues to 5:00pm on the scheduled date. There is a one hour lunch break (students should plan on bringing their own lunch to eat in the room), and student can take short breaks throughout the day (with the exam proctor’s permission).

Students must bring their own laptop and USB drive to the exam. If a student does not have a laptop, they should inform the Developmental Program Director at least one week in advance so that one can be made available. The USB drive will be given to the Developmental Program Director immediately following the exam.