Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) is an interdisciplinary major focusing on the health and development of individuals across the lifespan, within the context of diverse families and social identities. Students complete foundational coursework in human development (i.e., infancy and childhood, adolescence, emerging and young adulthood, middle and later adulthood/aging), family studies, and evidence-based prevention and intervention programming in human services. Students study theory and emerging research in the field and learn to identify risk and protective factors influencing cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development across the lifespan. During their final year, HDFS students apply knowledge and skills from foundational course work through participation in a semester-long internship. Internship is a hallmark of the degree program that serves as a culminating experience preparing students for a professional career with diverse populations, communities, and organizations. The HDFS major offers five concentrations that enable students to specialize within their degree and prepare for a variety of career paths in human services. In addition to selecting one of five concentrations, students have the opportunity to earn the Gerontology Interdisciplinary Minor, work toward Director Qualifications in early childhood settings, or apply to the Major in Early Childhood Education.  The HDFS department is committed to promoting the success and well-being of students from heterogeneous backgrounds and experiences. 

Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate:

  • Content knowledge and understanding of theory, research, and practice relevant to optimizing the development, health, and well-being of individuals and families across the lifespan in the context of the larger social environment.
  • Effective written and oral communication skills appropriate to the field of human development and family studies.
  • The ability to access, critically evaluate, and apply multiple forms of information related to individuals and families.
  • Professional and leadership skills with individuals and families, including ethical and culturally sensitive conduct.

Potential Occupations

Graduates with a major in HDFS are prepared to work in a range of human service sector settings including youth services organizations; early childhood, elementary, adolescent, and parent education programs; health-care settings; juvenile and adult corrections and criminal justice; family and community services; and programs serving older adults, including long-term care facilities. HDFS graduates are also well prepared to pursue graduate studies in mental health, behavioral and social sciences, education, health and medicine, policy and public health, and other professional programs. Students interested in teaching human development and family studies content at the secondary level should explore the interdepartmental Major in Family and Consumer Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences Education Concentration.

Some examples of career opportunities students may pursue with a bachelor's degree in HDFS include, but are not limited to: early childhood administrator and teacher, adult recreation programmer, administrator in adult and aging facilities, career development specialist, family services specialist, human development specialist, adult education teacher, human resources coordinator, youth agency administrator, community outreach worker, women’s program administrator, youth intervention and prevention program administrator, youth employment, training, and development specialist, parent educator, children-family educator, child protection worker, family assistance worker, program administrator, public relations specialist, student affairs professional, youth services worker, case manager, nonprofit agency administrator, and residential center manager.

To help guide students in career planning, there are five concentrations within the Major in Human Development and Family Studies. The HDFS program of study consists of the HDFS foundational courses, which are required for all students regardless of concentration, 15 credits selected from the list of courses within students' chosen concentration, and additional electives to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for graduation. Students must declare at least one concentration and may declare up to two concentrations in the HDFS major. The declared concentration(s) are listed on the students' transcripts and thus indicate specialized training within the HDFS degree program. 


Online Degree Program

The major in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) is offered in two formats, both leading to a Bachelor of Science degree. We offer classes to on-campus degree-seeking students and we offer distance students the HDFS degree through CSU Online. The major in Human Development and Family Studies offered through CSU Online provides a flexible, convenient, and accessible format for busy, working, or distance students. The online program of study is the same as the on-campus version, is fully accredited, and is indistinguishable on student transcripts and diplomas from the on-campus version. The Gerontology Interdisciplinary Minor and courses required to pursue a variety of certifications are also available online.

Accelerated Program 

The major in Human Development and Family Studies includes an accelerated program option for students to graduate on a faster schedule. Accelerated Programs typically include 15-16 credits each fall and spring semester for three years, plus 6-9 credits over three summer sessions. Students who enter CSU with prior credit (AP, IB, transfer, etc.) may use applicable courses to further accelerate their graduation. Visit the Office of the Provost website for additional information about Accelerated Programs.

Learn more about the Human Development and Family Studies major on the Department of Human Development and Family Studies website.