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Human Development

Human Development: Introduction

Effective August 2020, the Collaborative Specialization in Human Development has closed. (See amendment made on December 1, 2020.)

​​​​​​​​​​​​Lead Faculty of the Collaborative Specialization


Participating Degree Programs

Biomedical Engineering — PhD
Developmental Psychology and E​ducation — PhD
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology — PhD
Immunology — PhD
Medical Biophysics — PhD
Medical Science — PhD
Music — PhD
Nutritional Sciences — PhD
Pharmacology — PhD
Physiology — PhD
Psychology — PhD
Public Health Sciences — PhD
Social Work — PhD

Supporting Units

Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development (FMIHD)
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine


​The Collaborative Specialization in Human Development is transdisciplinary, exploring issues surrounding early human development. The healthy development of our children is at the core of our societal values. Recent evidence shows that early experiences strongly influence the biological pathways surrounding health and the well-being of individuals throughout their lives. This phenomenon involves complex interactions between genes and environments; the Human Development specialization provides students with the skills and resources necessary to start dissecting and untangling those interrelationships in animals and humans.

Keeping in mind the fundamental goal of improving the well-being of children, this collaborative specialization also nurtures translational skills in students with the ultimate goal of bridging the gap between basic research and public policy and practices. In summary, the specialization aims both to facilitate research on the ways that early childhood experiences become embedded in our biology, and to foster translational skills in order to disseminate this research most effectively to educators, policy makers, etc. The successful achievement of both of these aims will be supervised by an eminent group of academics with expertise in all relevant areas.

Upon successful completion of the PhD degree requirements of the participating home graduate unit and the collaborative specialization, students will receive the notation “Completed Collaborative Specialization in Human Development" on their transcript.

Contact and Address

Telephone: (416) 978-8325

Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street West, 7th Floor
Toronto, ON M5S 1V6

Human Development: Doctoral Level

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants to the collaborative specialization must apply to and be admitted to both the collaborative specialization and a graduate degree program in one of the collaborating graduate units.

  • Applicants must submit the following:

    • ​​​​curriculum vitae (CV);

    • one- to two-page essay explaining the applicant’s interest in the collaborative specialization, and how the proposed work is related to human development or areas that intersect with human development;

    • two letters of recommendation from faculty members commenting on the student’s academic ability, potential as a researcher, and fit within the collaborative specialization topic area.​

Specialization Requirements

  • Students must meet all respective degree requirements of the School of Graduate Studies, the participating home graduate unit, and the collaborative specialization. The collaborative specialization director and/or committee is/are responsible for certifying the completion of the collaborative specialization requirements. The home graduate unit is solely responsible for the approval of the student’s home degree program requirements.

  • Collaborative specialization students must:
    • complete the required core course, HDV 1000H+ Pluralistic Human Development (0.5 full-course equivalent [FCE]);

    • attend at least 75% of the seminars in the FMIHD seminar series in Year 1 and 50% of the seminars thereafter for the duration of the PhD program (SRD 4444H, CR/NCR);

    • attend an annual research day to present their work at least once during registration in the PhD program;

    • complete a thesis in the broad area of human development or an area that intersects with human development under the supervision of a core collaborative specialization faculty member.

+ Extended course. For academic reasons, coursework is extended into session following academic session in which course is offered.

Human Development: Courses

Core Courses

​HDV 1000H+
​Pluralistic Human Development​
​SRD 4444H
Doctoral Seminar Series​​

+ Extended course. For academic reasons, coursework is extended into session following academic session in which course is offered.