Table of Contents
A degree in human development and family studies applies important theories to complex, real-world issues affecting children and families. Using a social justice lens, students learn how to understand and work within diverse contexts that prepare them to apply and become certified family life educators after graduation.
The human development and family studies field aims to provide family members with information, skills, experiences and resources intended to strengthen or improve their family experience.
The field uses collaboration, prevention, resources and educational opportunities to assist individuals and families throughout their lives, encouraging service in the areas of social need with a positive, holistic and family focus.
This field of study can help equip you with practical tips for building connections, sharing knowledge, and meeting people’s needs. A human development major could prepare you for a rewarding career of impacting others.
Online Human Development and Family Studies Degrees
Are you interested in people, their development processes, and their interactions with others? If so, you might enjoy studying human and family development in college.
This is an interesting field of study that could be a good fit for many people. You would take an assortment of classes related to social science, social services, and education. For example, the curriculum might cover topics like:
- Human lifespan development
- Social science statistics
- Family advocacy
- Programming methods
Such varied studies could prepare you for work in a variety of fields. To help you develop expertise in a particular area, you might be able to select a concentration for your degree. The specialization options could include early childhood development, social services and case management, or aging services.
Not all colleges offer concentration tracks. Others may let you select electives that will support your career goals. Available electives might address:
- Counseling and therapy
- Gender and sexuality
- Mental and behavioral disorders
- Public policy
During your studies, you might be required to earn observation hours or complete practicums. Those are often done in learning settings for young children, such as preschool or daycare classrooms.
You can expect to study research and data in this program. You can become familiar with the quantitative and qualitative methods that social scientists use, and you’ll also read scholarly reports. There may also be a major research project or paper due at the end of your program.
Some college programs in human development and family studies are designed to prepare you for industry certifications. For example, you could pursue Certified Child Life Specialist or Certified Family Life Educator status. Often, these certifications require additional coursework or practical experiences beyond what’s needed for college graduation.
After completing your studies in this field, you might want to find a job working with kids, adolescents, or the elderly. You could also support the diverse needs of adults or families. You might pursue roles in human service agencies, childcare facilities, assisted living communities, or substance abuse treatment centers.
Family Studies and Human Development Careers & Salaries
A human development and family sciences degree could be useful for many different career paths. Relevant sectors include education, child services, eldercare, counseling, social work, healthcare, business, and nonprofit work.
If you want to work in education, you might focus on teaching young children. You may start as a preschool aide, a preschool teacher, or a childcare worker. In time, some professionals become directors of preschools or childcare centers.
Those aren’t the only job opportunities involving young children. Some graduates coordinate learning or recreational experiences in camps, parks departments, museums, or community centers. Similar skills might be useful when working with the elderly. Nursing homes, for example, hire recreation professionals to work as activity directors or assistants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in community and social service are growing at a 12% rate and have a median annual salary of $48,410.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$101,340|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Public Relations Specialists||$62,800|
|Human Resources Specialists||$62,290|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$48,520|
|Preschool and Childcare Center Directors||$47,310|
|Community Health Workers||$46,590|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||$37,610|
This area of study is relevant to many career paths. Through graduate studies, you may hone your expertise and qualify for more advanced roles.
People of all ages can benefit from counseling services. In many states, substance abuse education or counseling requires only a bachelor’s degree. With advanced training, you may be better qualified for roles in behavioral, mental health, or marriage and family counseling.
Social and human services are related fields. You might qualify to be an assistant, a social worker, or the director of a community agency. Licensing rules vary from state to state. Healthcare is another field where you might provide leadership. For example, some professionals coordinate care services in community clinics, treatment centers, or assisted living homes.
Your understanding of human development and relationships could also be useful for business-type roles. Some graduates take a role in human resources or public relations. Such opportunities might be available in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Family and Human Development Studies Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
During your bachelor’s in human development and family studies program, you’ll likely learn about child development, social services, family dynamics, and more.
Sample courses include:
- Community Relationships: This course may address ways to build productive ties between families and the communities in which they live.
- Death and Grief: You can study the grief cycle and learn about ways to help people cope with death, loss, and other traumas.
- Diversity: You’ll explore issues of ethnicity and diversity and consider how cultural norms influence family behaviors.
- Family Studies: Not only will you examine family structures, relationships, and dynamics, but you might also think about the role that the family unit plays in society.
- Health and Wellness: In this class, you might discuss child nutrition, consider methods of health promotion, and even learn some medical terminology.
- Lifespan Development: You’ll study how people grow and change—not only physically but also cognitively and emotionally—from birth through old age.
- Programming: This course will teach you how to plan and implement programs for children, families, or adults.
- Sexuality: You might take a class that looks at sexual behavior and relationships through scientific, sociological, and ethical lenses.
- Social Science Research: It’s common to have a class about the research methods and data analysis techniques that social scientists use.
- Social Services: You can learn about social service agencies—their structures and functions—and discuss professional conduct for social service providers.
You may get to choose several electives to help prepare you for the career path of your choice.
The first step to earning an online degree in human development and family studies is being admitted to college.
For the admissions process, colleges may request:
- Application form and the required processing fee
- Proof of high school education—school transcripts or GED certificate
- SAT or ACT scores (only needed for some colleges)
- Written statement about your life, goals, or professional experience
Other requirements may include reference letters, a resume, or an interview. These vary among schools, so your application packet is likely to look a little different for each college where you apply.
It’s strategic to focus your college search on schools with regional accreditation. Accredited schools have good reputations, and an independent accrediting body has confirmed that they meet set standards.
Attending a regionally accredited college can benefit you in multiple ways. For instance, the credits you earn are more likely to transfer from one school to another. You may also have a better chance of being admitted to grad school. You may even find that having a regionally accredited college on your resume helps your job search.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If the cost of a college education is holding you back, you may want to look into your options for financial aid. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) could be your first step.
Based on your FAFSA information, you might qualify for government loans and grants. The state in which you reside might offer similar support. Scholarships are another source of funding for some students. Colleges often give scholarship funds to qualifying students, and other organizations can offer scholarship opportunities as well.
In addition, employees sometimes receive workplace support. If you’re currently working, you can ask your HR department whether you qualify for this perk.
What Is an HDFS Major?
A human development and family studies (HDFS) major is a bachelor’s degree program that focuses on working with people. Often considered a four-year degree, this bachelor’s program includes studies in human growth and development, child education, human services, aging, and family relationships.
People often choose this degree with the goal of becoming early childhood professionals, activities directors, substance abuse counselors, or social service providers. Some also use their studies to launch careers in public relations or human resources.
Is Human Development and Family Studies a Good Major?
Yes, human development and family studies is a good major for many undergraduate students. Coursework in this field could put you on the road toward a career in helping others.
Job opportunities related to this degree are varied. You might work with young kids, the elderly, or families in need. Related jobs might entail education, counseling, or administrative services. In a role like community services director, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that salaries tend to range from $46,550 to $118,650.
What Can You Do with a Human Development Degree?
Graduates with a background in human development often fit well in jobs that require an understanding of people. Having learned about child development, you might pursue roles like preschool teacher, childcare director, camp programming manager, or youth mentor.
Your classes on social services could help prepare you to be a case manager, a program director, or a social worker in a community agency. Licensure requirements for social workers can vary by state. Some graduates go on to work in human resources or public relations, while others go on to earn an on-campus or online human development masters degree . The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that schools, businesses, government agencies, and other employers hire for those roles.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelors Degree in Human Development and Family Studies?
Colleges with traditional 16 week terms usually say that you can earn a bachelor’s degree in human development in about 4 years. That estimate is valid only for full-time students. Part-time studies generally take longer. Online programs sometimes use a different approach that features quicker terms.
Offered back-to-back throughout the length of the program, the classes may last only about 8 weeks each. For a bachelor’s degree, that format might allow you to graduate in 3.5 years or less. Transfer credits can often shorten your program, and some colleges will let you transfer in up to 90 credit hours.
Is a Bachelors in Family and Human Development Studies Worth It?
Yes, a bachelors in family and human development studies is worth it for many students. This is a versatile degree that could help you develop qualifications as a professional who helps others.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the need for community and social service positions is growing at a 12% rate over the next ten years. Meanwhile, there’s 15% job growth expected in social and community service management. A degree in human development and family studies could also act as a solid foundation for graduate studies in education, social work, counseling, or related fields.