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Human Development and Family Studies

Program Description

The Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) major is housed in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies (FCS). The objective of the HDFS major is to provide students with a broad and detailed understanding of the processes of personal development in the context of the family, and as impacted by community and societal forces beyond the family. More specifically, students with a HDFS major will acquire an understanding of:

  • The key features of development through each stage of life (infants, children, adolescents and adults);
  • How these key features of development are impacted by experience to account for the ways that each of us is unique;
  • How family members develop and maintain relationships within and across generations;
  • The decisions people make about managing resources such as time, money, and material assets;
  • The ways that individual and family well-being are impacted by community and societal forces;
  • The impact of local, national, and international policies and laws on individual, family and community well-being;
  • How research in these areas is conducted and evaluated, and how the findings from these works may be applied to enhance the well-being of individuals (at every age) and families

In addition to the breadth and depth of our HDFS major as summarized above, the major provides two opportunities for diving more deeply into specific areas of focus that are both relevant to the broader goals of our major and oriented toward specific career opportunities. These include:

Child Health Care - If you plan to work with children in a medical setting this emphasis is for you! Learn how to meet the social and emotional needs of young children and their families in medical settings. This emphasis is great for pre-med and pre-nursing students and fulfills all the educations requirements for those who want to become Child Life Specialists ( 

Early Childhood Education - provides students with a foundation for a career working with young children (0-8) in early child care, education, and other applied settings. We also have a pathway for earning a K-3 teaching license. 

The Student Experience

Moving beyond the theoretical, students also have the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research, complete community service and internships, gain mediation skills, and the hands-on experience necessary to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities. Additional involvement opportunities in the form of a Student Advisory Committee and the Kappa Omicron Nu (KON) Honor Society are also available.

Career Opportunities

The career opportunities with a degree in HDFS, with or without an emphasis, are broad and varied. Just a few examples for what our Alumni have gone on to do include:

Bachelor’s Degree

Early Childhood Interventionist, Human Resources Assistant, Deputy City recorder, Preschool/Kindergarten teacher, Child Life Specialist, Parent educator/Family Mentor, Community Education Coordinator, Data manager, Health Unit Coordinator, Child Care License Specialist, Caseworker I, Public Affairs assistant.

Bachelor’s degree + further education

Pediatric Cardiologist, CEO/Program Director (various non-profits and government agencies), School Counselor/Psychologist, Lawyer, Special Education Consultant, Volunteer/Community Outreach Coordinator, Nurse, Development Director, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Behavior Analyst, Professor, Social Worker, Developmental Screening Coordinator. 

More Info


Exploratory Classes

  • FCS 1500 - Lifespan Human Development
  • FCS 2100 - Transition to Adulthood
  • FCS 2400 - Modern Family: A Life Course Perspective
  • FCS 3010 - Introduction to FCS and Career Development

Last Updated: 6/10/24