Welcome to HDFS

Photo of Ramona Faith Oswald
Ramona Faith Oswald
Professor and Head

Recently ranked #4 among 48 Human Development and Family Studies programs in North America, the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign addresses contemporary social issues that affect children, youth, adults, and families through high quality research, teaching, and outreach programs.

What Makes HDFS Unique?

What brings us together as a unit – our common guiding thread – is that we address grand challenges regarding human development, relationships, and families through research, instruction, and outreach always with a view to relevant contextual issues (e.g., neighborhood/community, poverty, diversity, family structure, laws/policy, school structure, culture, immigration). In addition:

Our award-winning faculty’s commitment to student growth and success is reflected in a wide variety of activities, including faculty-led study abroad tours with service-learning components; opportunities for undergraduate involvement in research and community-service internships; frequent graduate student co-authorship in scholarly presentations and publications; in-class and out-of-class professionalization opportunities at both the graduate and undergraduate levels; state-of-the-art laboratories; and more.

Consistent with the land-grant mission of our campus and college, we are dedicated to bridging research-instruction-outreach/public engagement. Our capacity to do so with excellence is greatly enhanced by our Family Resiliency Center and Child Development Laboratory, as well as our Child Care Resource Service and The Autism Program, all of which provide opportunities for student involvement through internships and cutting-edge research.

Our research/outreach is inherently interdisciplinary and our faculty, as leaders in the field, have made pioneering advances in a variety of domains – LGBT families, family/child health, intimate partner violence, positive youth development, culturally-sensitive obesity prevention efforts, adolescent risk/resilience from an international perspective; university-based child development labs, and more. Research is conducted in a highly collaborative and congenial department environment.

Our faculty, who are among the top scientists in the world in the field of human development and family studies, conduct scholarly work always with a view to potential practical implications be they for families/parents, schools/teachers, community or health professionals, policy makers, youth program leaders, etc.; and they work within a culture of dissemination, reaching not only other scholars but also the public in traditional and innovative ways.

We are distinguished by our strengths not only in advanced quantitative techniques but also in qualitative methods of data collection and analysis; we utilize mixed-methods in our research and we require our graduate students to become proficient in both quantitative and qualitative methods through coursework and an apprenticeship model.

Enjoy our website and feel free to contact me, our Undergraduate Academic Advisor, or our Director of Graduate Studies if you have questions or would like more information.

Ramona Faith Oswald, Ph.D.
Professor and Head, Human Development and Family Studies