Undergraduate Students

Our students combine classroom work with practical experience to gain an in-depth understanding of how children develop, how families function effectively, and how to improve the lives of children, families, and the professionals who work with them.

With a major in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), you could become a professional who prevents child and partner abuse, helps immigrant families, assists children in hospitals dealing with medical procedures, develops curricula for after-school programs, identifies ways that couples can maintain healthy relationships, directs a child care center, or works with the aging population. Tailor your experience to fit your own professional goals, whether you're seeking employment after graduation or pursuing graduate or professional school.

Watch our 2-minute video about majoring in Human Development and Family Studies!

HDFS Career Explorer
Business & Law

The principles you’ll learn as a Human Development and Family Studies major can be valuable – even essential – in a wide variety of professional fields.

HDFS graduates are finding success as family lawyers. Students in the Family Studies concentration, for example, develop an understanding of family relationships valuable for helping their clients find satisfactory outcomes in divorce, child custody, and adoption proceedings.

Other HDFS graduates are using what they’ve learned in HDFS as human resources specialists. Their insights into people’s motivations and relationships in and out of work prove valuable both in the hiring process and in maintaining employee skills and productivity, as well as in enhancing the quality of the work environment.

Child, Family & Community Services

Your Human Development and Family Studies degree can prepare you for an assortment of careers in social services, adoption services, youth development, community education, and public health. Your understanding of children’s needs and abilities at different stages of their lives and your grasp of family dynamics will equip you for developing community programs for parents, bringing adoptive parents and children together, and improving other services for families and young people.

HDFS graduates are found in a variety of child, family and community service occupations, including:

  • Child Welfare, Adoption and related occupations
  • Family Life Education
  • Parent Education
  • Public Health
  • Youth Development


Your HDFS degree is sufficient for entry-level positions in most of these fields. For example, completing the Family Studies concentration with the right combination of courses can make you eligible for the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential. Click the “Read More” link to learn about this and other opportunities in these fields.

Counseling and Therapy

Counselors and therapists help people manage and overcome mental disorders, manage emotional problems, make career decisions, resolve relationship issues, and develop strategies to improve their lives. Human Development and Family Studies graduates work in all the following specialties, and more:

  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Marriage & Family Therapy
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Substance Abuse & Behavior Disorder Counseling
  • School Psychology
  • School Counseling


All these fields require an advanced degree in marriage and family therapy, counseling, clinical psychology or a related field. The courses you complete to earn your degree in HDFS, along with some well-chosen elective courses, can prepare you well for the advanced degree program of your choice. To learn more, click the “Read More” link.

Early Childhood Education

If you’re interested in teaching young children, or in working with other professionals to improve learning outcomes for children with developmental disabilities, the Human Development and Family Studies major can give you a strong foundation for your career.

Students in in the Child and Adolescent Development concentration gain in-depth understanding of how young children develop mentally, socially, and physically, as well as experience in designing classroom activities and other aspects of classroom management. Hence they’re well prepared for preschool teaching, though they’ll need additional course work beyond the bachelor’s degree where state certification is required.

HDFS students also learn about how to work with children whose development is atypical in one or more areas. HDFS graduates can earn state certification in special education by completing a teacher certification program after receiving their bachelor’s degree. With selected course work in HDFS and special education, HDFS graduates can qualify for developmental specialist or early intervention specialist credentials.

Medical and Health Services

If you’re thinking of pursuing a health-related career, especially one that involves working with children, a major in Human Development and Family Studies can help you build a strong foundation for your future profession.

Choose the Child and Adolescent Development concentration and you’ll graduate with an in-depth understanding of how children develop from birth through adolescence. You’ll have insight to the kinds of issues facing kids of different ages and abilities, and you’ll be familiar with strategies for involving families in the health care process. Most important, you’ll have an affinity with your patients or clients that you’re not likely to get with any other major.

HDFS graduates work in a wide range of health-care settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practice. A degree in HDFS is great preparation for almost any health-related career, including:

  • Child Life Specialist
  • Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Nursing
  • Speech-Language Pathology


Most, but not all, health professions will require training beyond the bachelor’s degree. Click the “Read More” button to learn more about each.

Research & Higher Education

Have you ever wondered where the material in your HDFS textbooks comes from? Well, it comes from researchers, many of whom also teach at the university level, whose curiosity and scientific training lead them to in-depth study of children, families, groups, and their relationships, usually to help answer an important practical or public policy question.

Researchers in HDFS study and teach about a vast array of topics, including:

  • how children develop in different family and cultural contexts
  • how parental involvement affects children’s learning
  • how families and communities can help prevent childhood obesity
  • how current and proposed social policies affect ethnic and other minority populations
  • how couples form satisfying relationships
  • how siblings interact at different life stages
  • how family violence affects partners, children, and friendships


These are just a few of the questions HDFS researchers are trying to answer. The list of possibilities is almost endless, and there’s room for you, as an HDFS researcher, to open up a new research area of your own.

Social Work

Social workers are found in a broad range of specialties, but one thing they all have in common is a desire to help people and families connect with the resources they need to help solve or cope with problems. With a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, you’ll have an understanding of diverse individuals, couples, and families to strengthen your social work practice no matter what the setting.

In general, social workers help people cope with challenges in their lives. Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. Clinical social workers provide individual, group, family, and couples therapy. School social workers help teachers, parents, and school administrators develop plans to improve students’ academic performance. Medical social workers refer patients to community agencies, facilitate support groups, and link patients with hospital and community resources.

To be a licensed social worker, you’ll need to earn a Master of Social Work in addition to your bachelor’s degree in HDFS. Click the “Read More” link for more information about preparing for a social work career.