M.A. Human Development

Program Description

The Human Development 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 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. 

Offered at Pacific Oaks’ Pasadena, CA Campus and locations throughout California, the M.A. in Human Development program 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 Human Development 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 degree 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 16 months full time.
  • HD students pursuing the on-ground course of study may also have the opportunity to enroll in online courses.


POC:Pasadena, CAPOC:Salinas, CAPOC:Visalia, CAPOC:Chico, CAPOC:Santa Cruz, CAPOC:Sacramento, CAPOC:Online


Human Development


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

Total Credits



Fieldwork Requirements

All M.A. specializations and credential programs require fieldwork or field experience appropriate to the program emphasis.


  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited university
  • Personal statement: This typed, 500-word statement will be used as a writing sample, so make your essay integrative and cohesive. Sign your essay as a pledge that it represents your own work. Your personal statement must include the following:
    • A description of two experiences in your life and what they meant to you.
    • Your professional goals and how you will pursue these goals through your study at Pacific Oaks College.
    • An explanation of what it is about Pacific Oaks College that appeals to you.
    • Your expectations of a graduate program.

Sample Courses

Advance Studies in Conflict Resolution and Mediation

This class is designed for human service professionals, including teachers, educational administrators, and marriage and family counselors, who work with children, adolescents, and families. Participants will evaluate the nature of human conflict, create effective strategies, and develop programs for the peaceful resolution of conflict. Students will evaluate and critique techniques and models for conflict resolution and mediation, and engage in creative problem-solving in various conflict areas at the micro and macro levels of society. Communicating across cultures and bias awareness issues will be evaluated within all content areas.

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.

POC:Pasadena, CAPOC:Salinas, CAPOC:Visalia, CAPOC:Chico, CAPOC:Santa Cruz, CAPOC:Sacramento, CAPOC:Online