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Field of Study: Family Studies and Human Development


Family studies and human development programs teach people about the family unit and its influence on human growth and development.



Family studies and human development programs include topics such as:

  • Basic human development
  • Family/community development
  • Family support services
  • Social policy
  • Outreach and community education

In family studies and human development programs students may be able to specialize in:

  • Work and family studies
  • Human development and family studies
  • Family systems
  • Family and community services

A few community colleges offer associate degrees in family studies and human development. An associate degree program usually takes two years to complete.

Many colleges and universities also offer a bachelor's degree in this program. A bachelor's degree usually takes four years of full-time study. Some schools offer a post-bachelor's certificate program that usually requires one year of full-time study after getting a bachelor's degree.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in family studies and human development. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.


College preparation

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

  • Issues of American Culture
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Social Science Research
  • Family Living


Graduate admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General.

Your bachelor's degree should be in family studies and human development. If this is not possible at your college, you should take many courses in related subjects such as:

  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

You also need to submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose describing your interests in the program and your educational goals.


Typical course work

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Adulthood and Aging
  • Children, Families, and Public Policy
  • Close Relationships in Families
  • Death and Dying
  • Family Communication
  • Family Dynamics and Intervention
  • Family Theories
  • Gender Roles in Families
  • Human Sexuality
  • Internal Dynamics of Families
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Leisure and Aging
  • Leisure in Modern Society
  • Life Cycle Nutrition
  • Life-Span Human Growth and Development
  • Multicultural Study of Children and Families
  • Psychosocial Development
  • Remarriage and Stepfamilies
  • Research Methodology
  • Sociology of the Family
  • Stress in Families
  • Work and Family
  • Working with Parents

Course work in graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree varies, especially depending on your research focus. However, the typical outline for a graduate curriculum looks like the following:

  • Required core courses
  • Thesis (master's degree only)
  • Preliminary oral and written exams (doctoral degree only)
  • Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree only)

Because graduate work tends to be research-oriented, you will probably take courses in statistics, interviewing, and research methods also.


Things to know

Internships allow students to develop skills at companies or organizations. Although internships are not required in this program of study, they are a way to meet prospective employers and acquire references.


Similar fields of study

Careers you may qualify for

College Home Economics Teachers
Farm and Home Management Advisors



International Association for Relationship Research

National Council on Family Relations

Schools that offer program

Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.

Concordia University, St. Paul , Located in Metro
St. Cloud State University , Located in Central
St. Cloud State University - Online , Located in Central
St. Cloud Technical & Community College , Located in Central
St. Cloud Technical & Community College - Online , Located in Central
St. Olaf College - Northfield, Located in Southeast
The Meta Institute - Edina, Located in Metro