A dynamic bio-psychosocial developmental approach guides the curriculum.  It includes knowledge from all the disciplines that contribute to understanding early human development and its disorders including emotional and social development, cognitive and language functioning, perceptual motor and sensory functioning, neurobiology, caregiver/child interaction patterns, family patterns, psychopathology, and the larger community and cultural contexts.  In this sense, the program is interdisciplinary, bringing together knowledge from all the disciplines that contribute to our understanding of infancy and early childhood mental health, developmental disorders, and parental and family socio-emotional functioning.  An overriding theme in the curriculum is the way in which the different facets of development, including normative and disordered patterns, relate to one another and can be understood as part of an integrated, dynamic developmental framework.  In addition, new findings from direct observations, clinical work, and research on infants, young children, and their families with various types of challenges and disorders, including work on individual processing differences, early interactive relationships, and cultural differences and shared traits, are also be emphasized.

The curriculum includes state of the art online courses in two academic areas:
  • Infant Mental Health & Developmental Disorders
  • Infant Mental Health Research & Statistics

These courses are integrated with supervised incremental practicum opportunities embedded throughout the curriculum. The clinical and research experience is obtained through participating in an appropriate site, (most students use their own practice/place of employment), which includes regularly scheduled individual and group face-to-face supervision (ICDL Virtual Classroom) given by ICDL Faculty. The supervised practicum is coordinated with the academic curriculum, allowing students to apply concepts acquired through distance courses and receive feedback from ICDL Faculty with clinical and research expertise in each of the academic courses. 

This doctoral level program also requires the completion of a dissertation that encourages students to focus on infancy and early childhoold mental health and/or developmental disabilities, but with approval may include a research topic with children of other ages. The combination of online courses, supervised practicum and the dissertation prepare students to become sensitive, ethical, and culturally competent professional leaders, embracing a psychosocial developmental model and an interdisciplinary approach to integrate theory, practice and research, and improve the lives of infants, young children, and their families.

The ICDL Graduate School fosters key values throughout the curriculum that are critical to training sensitive, ethical, and culturally competent professionals:

  • Respect for all individual and cultural differences of children, families, and professionals;
  • Belief in the strengths of all children, families and professionals to emotionally, socially and cognitively engage in learning and contributing to society;
  • Commitment to promote Infant Mental Health with professional excellence.

Course Descriptions

85 credits are required for graduation:

Infant Mental Health & Developmental Disorders
34 credits (including elective credits to fulfill the requirement)
14 credits (including elective credits to fulfill the requirement)
20 credits

17 credits

Curriculum Sequence

Full-time students (taking 6 credits or more per trimester) can finish the academic program (all courses up to dissertation course work) in approximately 4 years. 

Part-time students (taking 3-5 credits per trimester) may have to devote 5-7 years to finish the academic program program.  Students are expected to finish their academic program in no more than 8 years.

Sample 4 year study plan (full time)