Online M.A. Human Development

Program Description

The Human Development online master's program at Pacific Oaks College is designed to provide advanced study in the growth and development of individuals at various stages of the lifespan. 

As master's candidates, students at Pacific Oaks are immersed in theories of human development and in the biological, psychological, emotional, and sociological factors that contribute to an individual's growth; they learn to critically evaluate the implications those factors have on skills and milestones that develop throughout a lifetime.

Our online M.A. in Human Development builds competence in human development, knowledge of the social and political contexts of development, communication skills, integration of theory into practice, and research—preparing graduates to take on leadership roles in a range of settings serving individuals of all ages, as well as families.

Graduates are prepared to apply human development theories and principles to their roles as parents, educators, care-givers, supervisors, and other capacities in which they play a significant role in the development of children and adults of any age.

Many of our graduates have gone on to become educators, administrators, and supervisors in settings worldwide ranging from pre-school to community college-helping to spread our inclusive, culture-centered approach. Pacific Oaks' integrative program prepares graduates to bring social justice, advocacy, and respect for diversity and individualism to a variety of careers focused on the development of both children and adults.

  • May be completed in as little as two years part time, or one year full time.
  • Online students may select a specialization in Development Across the Lifespan (Generalist), Early Childhood Education and Development, Leadership in Education and Human Services, or Social Change.
  • Students may petition to waive the bachelor's degree admission requirement through the Pacific Oaks College Credit for Learning from Experience program.


Human Development

Total Credits



Early Childhood Education and Development
Ecological Perspectives of Lifespan Development
Leadership in Education and Human Services
Social Change


  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited university
  • Credit for Learning from Experience: Students may be eligible to waive the bachelor's degree requirement if they have at least 10 years of verifiable, relevant work experience, have successfully completed Reflections on Life Experience coursework, submitted a portfolio of student work samples, qualify for 30 units of credit by assessment of prior learning, and meet other application criteria. Learn more about CLE.

Sample Courses

Advanced Studies in Human Development

This class explores in depth how themes which begin in early childhood recur later in the life cycle. Building on knowledge of Erik Erikson's theory and other psychosocial and cognitive theories, the participants will add and integrate theoretical and personal knowledge of growth during the life cycle and the interaction between the contexts of development and psychological development. We will examine our own developmental paths and look at choices made and options taken or rejected. A research project focusing on a developmental issue is required. The class will emphasize development in adulthood.

Advanced Studies in Working with Families in a Diverse World

Students will assess the psychosocial developmental stages/tasks of families, the critical importance of culture/ethnic traditions, values and beliefs and how these all affect our work as advocates. Within this context, students will create strategies to be more successful individual, interpersonal and institutional change agents. Students will engage in active, experiential learning, synthesize theory and practice, and evaluate the impact of social, ethnic, gender and class contexts on themselves and their work with children and families.

Advanced Studies in Writing Our Stories: Reflections on Literacy Development

Students in this class will develop the capacity to assess and critique reflective practice through writing and sharing their own stories about their experiences. Students will create strategies to effectively facilitate young children's beginning writing by modeling literacy behaviors, writing where children can see, scribing children's words, and representing children's play in writing. Students will evaluate the different ways that people express their own culture through writing.