Human Development & Family Studies
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Human Development & Family Studies Overview

If you find the idea of studying human relationships, family and public policy fascinating, Human Development & Family Studies (HDFS) could be the major for you.

The main purpose of the program is to understand how people develop and relationships form in society. This is an interdisciplinary program where you will study the cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of people throughout different stages. These changes from conception through death are shaped through family, friends, community, and society. This major deals with practical as well as theoretical knowledge and can be very compelling because of its strong relevance to every person.

Classes you may take when studying HDFS could include: child guidance and parenting, contemporary family issues, multiethnic society, early childhood education, human sexuality, child development, lifespan development, psychology, and sociology.

Concentrations in this major include: Adult Development and Aging, Family Systems, Child Development, Family and Community Services, Child Care and Support Services Management, Developmental Services Worker, Human Development and Family Services.

Required Skills

If you are interested in studying people of all ages and backgrounds, this major will have plenty to interest you. Your classes will help you understand how people behave and react in different circumstances. Many colleges will require you to gain first-hand experience in an internship or co-op. You will experience work in a variety of different settings so you can get a better idea of what to specialize in.

This major requires critical thinking skills that will allow you to analyze an issue from many perspectives. People make decisions as a result of their emotional, social, physical, and intellectual growth. The nature versus nurture debate will be something you cover in depth in both classes and research. Students will have plenty of practice working on their writing while completing research papers, lab work and recording observations from the field.

Students who excel in this field are both curious and caring. You should want to understand human development in order to learn to help others. The knowledge you obtain can help reduce the stress of people going through medical treatment and help ease family worry. You could also work with youth who may not be given ideal situations to grow up in. You should be able to work with others without judging or patronizing.


With a degree in HDFS you have the ability to work in many different settings. The range of occupations you can participate in includes youth services organizations, program coordinator at a community center, educational programs for students of all ages, a job in a health care setting, family and community services, such as a marriage or family therapist, and long-term care facilities. Many students will decide to obtain their master's degree in behavioral or social sciences.

Graduates with a degree in human development and family studies average $32,750 as a starting salary with a mid-career salary of $45,954.

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Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Human Development & Family Studies might open up.

Childcare Workers
Community and Social Service Specialists, All Other
Farm and Home Management Advisors
Home Economics Teachers, Postsecondary
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education
Social and Human Service Assistants
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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