Undergraduate Programs

By majoring in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), our students prepare themselves for a range of rewarding careers. They combine coursework with practical, in-the-field experiences to gain an in-depth understanding of how children and youth develop, how families function effectively and manage stress, and how to improve the lives of children and families – keeping in mind the importance of cultural and economic context and diversity, broadly defined. Many of our students enrich their learning through multiple study abroad experiences, practicum and internships, and assisting in faculty research projects.

What are the areas of special emphasis in HDFS?

Students choose one of two concentrations

The Child and Adolescent Development Concentration combines course work with practical experience to provide students with a broad base of knowledge regarding the emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development of children and adolescents. Students learn about the influence that parents, caregivers, peers, and others can have on the health and well-being children and youth.

The Family Studies Concentration focuses on how families and romantic partners function, develop, and change in response to the challenges of modern life. Course work covers the latest research and theories about dating, marriage, parenthood, divorce, life in single-parent and step-families, LGBT families, gender differences, and how families can learn to manage conflicts.

Students can also take steps toward becoming a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE). Completing the HDFS Family Studies option with the appropriate choice of required and elective courses can qualify students for provisional status as a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE), a credential awarded by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR).

Consider a minor in adult development: UIUC students planning careers in social or health-related services will find an understanding of adult development and its attendant issues an asset when applying for entry-level positions or graduate/professional school.

General Education and HDFS Core Requirements

In addition to the requirements of each concentration (outlined in the links above), all students in the Human Development and Family Studies major complete course work satisfying the University's General Education requirements and core courses required for all HDFS majors.


A minimum of 60 hours must be earned in courses taken on the UIUC campus, to include at least 21 hours earned in 300- or 400-level courses.

One of the unique features of our HDFS program is providing applied course work, experiential learning opportunities and research experiences to our students. These intensive educational programs are a hallmark of the human development and family studies major, distinguishing our students as being very well prepared for success in the professional workforce and graduate and professional study. We are committed to maintaining these enriched course offerings despite the extensive resources they require in the form of faculty time and expertise.

To help cover costs associated with these applied, experiential and research internship courses, all HDFS students pay a one-time HDFS Applied Experience Fee, assessed for the fall semester of the student's junior year. Junior and senior transfers will have the fee assessed for their first fall semester following admission to the HDFS major. The current Applied Experience Fee is $1,095.