Human Development and Family Studies (Ph.D.)

Department of Human Development & Family Studies

Human Development and Family Studies is the interdisciplinary study of individuals and relationships across the lifespan in diverse contexts of families, communities, and cultures. Ph.D. candidates are prepared to transform the human experience through applied research rooted in social justice.

Doctoral students collaborate with faculty mentors in experiences related to applied research, developing a focal area of scholarship. Each student completes rigorous course work, including research methodology, comprehensive exams, and the dissertation. Student achievements are documented in a professional portfolio throughout the doctoral program.

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Human Development and Family Studies offers three concentrations from which students may choose. They include:

  • Child Development: focus on behavioral, psychological, biological, educational, and contextual processes that promote positive developmental outcomes in infants and young children.
  • Lifespan Human Development and Family Diversity: focus on developmental processes across the life course in the context of family, community, schools and other environments within a sociocultural context to include attention to gender, ethnicity, racial socialization, immigration, poverty, disability, and sexual orientation. Study may focus on one life stage (youth, emerging or older adults) or examine an issue (attachment, chronic illness) across the entire life course. Completing a selection of courses on cultures, identities, families or policy, agreed upon by the student and committee members will satisfy the concentration.
  • Couple and Family Therapy: focus on the application of research and theory to individual, group, couple and family therapy. Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).
Degree Level
Program Delivery
Area(s) of Study
Child/Human Development and Family Science/Studies
Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Department Chair
Director of Graduate Studies