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The mission of the Department of Human Development and Family Science is (a) to provide students with a comprehensive, integrated knowledge of families and individuals across the life span as appropriate preparation for careers in human services and/or graduate study, and (b) to conduct research on the variety of factors and contexts relevant to human and family development. The goal of the Department is to enhance the quality of life for individuals of all ages through teaching, research, and service in a manner consistent with the University's land grant mission. The Department recognizes the importance of an ecological approach to the study of human development and families, and utilizes a systemic approach in teaching, research, and service. Interactions of individuals and families with the economic, political, judicial, religious, and educational systems are emphasized. The Department also serves as a resource base for citizens of North Dakota in the area of individual and family life.

Areas of Study
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Master's
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Doctoral
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Master's
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Master's
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Master's
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

The Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) area includes 24 faculty positions, 18 of which are tenured and tenure-track, serving over 2,000 majors and minors.  We offer academic programs in Child Development, Early Childhood Development and Learning (including teacher certification), Family Studies, and  Gerontology.  Our Family Studies and Child Development majors complete field work early on in their academic training with a semester internship that completes their professional sequence. The Gerontology program is offered as a minor that pairs well with most majors or as a master's level certification. 

Areas of Study
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Early Childhood - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

The Human Development and Family Science major recognizes the crucial role of families in society. The curriculum focuses on personal relationships and their connection to and impact on human living and development.  The program continues to hold to their motto, "Enriching the lives of families through education, service and advocacy."  Since 1999 the family studies curriculum has met the requirements for the Provisional Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) designation awarded by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). The program is designed to prepare students for professional careers in the helping professions, in human service agencies, the non profit sector, or for graduate school and research.  Career options include family life education, parenting education, helping professions, elder care services, family and social services, child development, youth ministry, and education. A significant portion of our students plan to attend a master's degree program in areas such as family law, social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling, early childhood education, occupational therapy and seminary.

Areas of Study
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

HDFS is a leader in applied interdisciplinary scholarship focused on reducing risk and enhancing resilience within individuals and among families across cultures and generations. The distinguishing feature of HDFS is the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary integration of instruction, research and application between and among human development, family science, early childhood education, gerontology, and marriage and family therapy. Because integrative approaches are necessarily broad, the department's focus is on the many ways resilience may be discovered, developed, mastered, and maintained across human processes and contexts.

Areas of Study
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Master's
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Doctoral
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Master's
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Early Childhood - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Doctoral
  • Family Science/Studies - Master's
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Master's
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
  • Therapy (Couples, Marriage, or Family) - Master's
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

The Department of Human Development & Family Studies focuses its teaching, research, and outreach activities on the well-being and healthy development of individuals and families over the full span of life, including dynamic relations within the family as well as the family's interactions with other social institutions. The Department's undergraduate and graduate programs present a multidisciplinary understanding of individual and family development and change over the life span. Students are oriented to the broad social, cultural, and historical contexts within which families function, and how context is reflected in developmental variations related to issues of diversity such as family structure, race, gender, class, and ethnicity. Students are exposed to the study of how social policies and various types of social services affect families, family members, and the wider contexts in which families reside. At the graduate level, the Department awards an M.A. and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies.

Areas of Study
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Doctoral
  • Family Science/Studies - Master's
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Doctoral
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Master's
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
  • Therapy (Couples, Marriage, or Family) - Doctoral
  • Therapy (Couples, Marriage, or Family) - Master's
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

The Family Services coursework focuses on theory and research about family relationships and human development, with an applied focus in order to help prepare students for work in the human services field or to attend graduate school. We have a strong focus on prevention and early intervention, providing tools and knowledge to families in order to improve their quality of life. Students link their family studies knowledge with courses about the population they want to serve. The program has been designated as an approved Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) program by the National Council on Family Relations. The school also offers an interdisciplinary gerontology major with a choice of two tracks, social sciences or long term care administration. The long term care administration track qualifies student to take the State of Iowa licensing exam for facility administrators. The social sciences track provides a broad perspective on the nature of adulthood and aging, and the provision of services to older persons.

Areas of Study
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

The Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program is housed within the School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences. HDFS offers an interdisciplinary approach to individual and family development across the lifespan. We value a holistic perspective that includes nurturing and fostering physical, intellectual, emotional, and social dimensions of human life. We focus on child and adolescent development, adult development and aging, biological aspects of human development, family studies, intervention research, and developmental research methods. 

Areas of Study
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Master's
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Master's
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

The Family and Child Studies Department provides students with a greater understanding of multiple ways of knowing families and children in various contexts. It enables students to critically analyze the literature and to keep abreast of trends in research. The faculty creates a learning environment that supports and encourages the development of forward thinking practitioners and educators who work with families and children in a variety of settings. The department of Family and Child Studies examines multiple ways of knowing families and individuals over the life course in various socio-cultural contexts. Power, diversity, and social justice are analyzed through an interdisciplinary and critical approach.

Areas of Study
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Master's
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Early Childhood - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Doctoral
  • Family Science/Studies - Master's
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

The Family and Child Studies (M.S.) program is a life-span study of the family from birth to death. This degree program can lead to a certification in Family Life Education from the National Council on Family Relations. The Certified Child and Parenting Specialist credential is also available to those graduates who take the required examination and internships. The Family Life Education Program (B.S.) is the study of the development of children and their families from the prenatal stage throughout the lifespan. The program focuses on interpersonal relationships and developmental tasks of all family members. The program provides three options: Child Development, Marriage and Family, and Gerontology. The Child Development option provides students with a concentration of courses in child development and will strengthen career opportunities by providing students with competencies to work with children and their families. Studies focus specifically about children regarding research supporting the critical need to know how children learn and develop, and how to best meet these needs. Upon completion of the degree, students will be prepared to enter graduate programs with a concentration in Child Development and related areas. Students are prepared to apply for the following certifications: Certified Family Life Educator and Certified Child and Parenting Practitioner. The Marriage and Family option is designed for students who desire to work with families in family life education and/or in family and community service settings. The curriculum has a broad interdisciplinary component including course work in individual development; marital and family systems; professionalism and ethics; and research. Students completing this option are prepared to meet the requirements for Certified Family Life Education national certification and for graduate programs in marriage and family, and related fields. The Gerontology option will provide students with a concentration of courses related to the older adult. Because of the rapid pace at which our society is aging and the high percent of older adults, students will increase their career opportunities as they work with this age in the population. Completion of this option allows the graduate to enter graduate programs in Gerontology and satisfy requirements for the Certified Family Life Educator and other certifications available.

Areas of Study
  • Child or Adolescent Science/Studies - Master's
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Master's
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated

This HDFS degree enables students to prepare for professional, managerial, or scientific roles in health and human services professions, in public and nonprofit agencies, and in business and industry, as well as for advanced professional or graduate study.

Students obtain a broad background in individual and family development across the life span. Courses emphasize biological, psychological, social/cultural, and economic aspects of development.

Through course work and undergraduate internships or research projects, students develop skills relevant to career objectives, such as counseling, human assessment, program planning and evaluation, and research.

This degree has only one option:

LIFE SPAN HUMAN SERVICES OPTION: This option focuses on the acquisition and application of scientific knowledge about development and family functioning across the life span for the purposes of enhancing personal and family development.

Courses emphasize:

  1. Understanding the biological, psychological, and social development across the life span and the structuring and functioning of families
  2. Understanding basic theoretical and methodological issues
  3. The development of applied skills in intervention and evaluation, prevention, and in the formulation of social policy.

An approved field experience in a setting that serves children, youth, adults, or the aged is required for this option.

Typical employment settings include preschools, daycare centers, hospital programs for children, youth, and families, institutional and community mental health programs for individuals and families, programs for abused or neglected children and adolescents, women's resource centers, human resources programs, employee assistance programs, nursing homes, area agencies on aging and other community settings for older adults, and public welfare and family service agencies.

Typical postgraduate pursuits of students completing this option include graduate study in human development, family studies, psychology, or sociology, or advanced professional training in psychology, law, behavioral health, counseling or social work.

Areas of Study
  • Development (Child, Human, or Family) - Undergraduate
  • Family Science/Studies - Undergraduate
  • Older Adults (Gerontology) - Undergraduate
CFLE Approved
Last Updated