Founded in 1925, the Department of Human Development has been at the forefront of interdisciplinary research on lifespan development psychology. Its past faculty and researchers have included noted names in psychology and human development, including Kurt Lewin, Urie Bronfenbrenner, John Doris, Lee C. Lee, and Henry Ricciuti. The department has a historic dual commitment to increase knowledge of human development through rigorous research and scholarship and to disseminate this knowledge beyond the classroom to the larger community through a variety of public engagement activities, including exploring the social policy implications of research-based knowledge.

Today, the department has 24 faculty members, holding appointments in teaching, research, and outreach. The Graduate Program in Human Development currently has 45 doctoral students in residence, while undergraduate majors number between 350 to 400 students.