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Human Development & Family Studies

This major is phasing out. All students who declared before August 1, 2018 have until May 2022 to graduate with these requirements. Those who do not graduate in that time frame will be moved to the new Family, Community and Human Development major.

HDFS Major & Minor Requirements | Child Life | Early Childhood Education

The objective of the Human Development and Family Studies major is to provide students with an integrated knowledge and interdisciplinary understanding of family relationships and individual development over the life course. The curriculum in the major is organized into two conceptual domains: human development and family studies. Students then choose from several focus courses that expand their knowledge of particular life stage, family process, or family institution interface within each block of human development courses and family studies courses. Majors are expected to acquire the following skills/knowledge:

Human Development

  • Mastery of the principles of human development, and an understanding of the key developmental task of each stage of life.
  • Depth of understanding in one or more of the developmental stages, with particular emphasis on the family as a context for human development.

Family Studies

  • Understanding of intra-family processes such as power, decision-making, and communication; mastery of family theories and conceptual frameworks, such as the systems perspective, constructivist, functional and conflict theories.
  • Depth of understanding on the ability to analyze the internal workings of the family.
  • Mastery of family ecological models, including principles of reciprocity and interdependence between larger contextual environments and the family, and an understanding of family policy.
  • Depth of understanding on comprehensive examination of the interface between the family and various social/political/cultural environments.


  • Understanding of the principles research methods, including issues of internal and external validity, correlation versus causation, and operationalization: ability to critique and evaluate written research reports.
  • Ability to perform basic statistical tests, and understanding of the application of statistical ests, and understanding of the application of statistics in the research process.
Last Updated: 3/25/21