Human Development and Family Sciences (Ph.D.)

Department of Human Development and Family Sciences

The HDFS doctoral degree program prepares students for research, teaching, and administrative positions in colleges and universities and for research-related positions in government, policy-related research organizations, and other public and private settings. The program emphasizes research and theory and their interplay with individual development, family relationships, and institutions outside the family.

Development of the individual is considered within the contexts of the family, peer group, community, and culture. The family is studied as a system of relationships, with attention to roles, communication, conflict resolution and negotiation, and family members’ perceptions of each other and of their family. Public policies, mass media, and care settings outside the family are among the community influences considered in relation to the development of individuals and families.

The program emphasizes the investigation of social processes that contribute to competence and optimal development in individuals from birth to maturity and how such competence is reflected in interpersonal relationships and family interactions.

The Population Research Center and the Texas Aging and Longevity Center also complement the doctoral program, by offering graduate training in population sciences and aging, respectively.

About the Department

The Department of Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) at UT-Austin has a lifespan developmental perspective that focuses on the exploration of the psychological, social, and biopsychosocial processes that lead individuals and families to a spectrum of outcomes, from productivity, health, and well-being at one end to illness, dysfunction, and distress at the other. All of our HDFS majors participate in our practicum course in which students choose from a variety of internship options including working with community partners, getting hands-on experience working with young children and families at The Priscilla Pond Flawn Child & Family Laboratory, and working directly with our faculty in their research labs. Our graduates have numerous and varied post-college careers in health professions, counseling, non-profit organizations, and teaching to name just a few.

HDFS at UT-Austin is a dynamic program that is among the nation's best interdisciplinary departments. Our faculty are award-winning teachers, leaders in prestigious scientific societies, recipients of national and international awards for outstanding research accomplishments and distinguished careers, and recipients of major grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and numerous private foundations. Our senior faculty are among the elite researchers in the discipline, and our junior faculty are some of the field's brightest up and coming stars.

Degree Level
Program Delivery
Area(s) of Study
Child/Human Development and Family Science/Studies
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Department Chair
Director of Graduate Studies