Human Development and Family Science B.S.

This program examines the ways people grow and develop, form relationships and families, and learn to cope with the common and uncommon events of life. The program integrates developmental and ecological systems perspectives and emphasizes information literacy, critical reflection, and community-engaged learning experiences rooted in social justice and strengths-based frameworks of human development and family science. Students learn basic and applied concepts of human development and acquire skills in working with individuals and families of different ages and backgrounds in a variety of settings. Community-engaged learning is required of all students, including 6 credits of internship senior year.

Human Development and Family Science is also a minor available to students across the university.

Major Requirements

Students in the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) program are required to complete a minimum of 120 credits including University Catamount Core, College, HDFS General Education Major requirements and HDFS Professional courses. The professional courses are designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of individual and family development across the life span and in diverse socio-cultural contexts. These courses are arranged in three blocks: introductory, intermediate, and advanced.

The introductory block includes four core courses in Human Development and Family Science. Of these courses, three introduce students to core topics in the field, including individual development across the life span: “Human Development” (HDF 1050), “Family Context of Development” (HDF 1600), and “Human Relationships and Sexuality” (HDF 1650). These courses also introduce students to experiences, changes and challenges typical at different points in the life course and to factors that influence individual development, such as gender, race and social class. The fourth course, “Foundations of Human Development and Family Science” (HDF 1010), is a skill focused course that provides HDFS majors with an introduction to the discipline and practice of HDFS, with special emphasis on preparing students for more advanced course work and professional practice. This course is specifically designed to examine how questions are pursued from a human development perspective, how these questions relate to everyday life, how knowledge in the discipline is constructed, and the types of skills necessary to both acquire and appropriately use this knowledge.

The intermediate block builds upon the introductory block through a set of five professional course requirements. In HDF 2610, students are offered a deeper introduction to and opportunity to critically analyze the major social institutions and cultural contexts that affect human development. HDF 2410 focuses in depth on white identity and the context of privileging whiteness. The remaining three courses in this intermediate block introduce students to major theories of development used to help us understand individual development (HDF 2890), to a relational framework for understanding development (HDF 2205), and to the HDFS profession through the study and practice of essential helping relationship skills and ethical practice (HDF 2010). All three courses also provide students the opportunity to apply developmental theories to practice.

The advanced block consists of advanced seminars and 6 credits of internship. All majors take at least 3 advanced seminar courses selected in consultation with an advisor. The internship is the final professional requirement, consisting of a 2-semester intentionally sequenced internship experience in the fall (3 credits) and spring (3 credits) of senior year.  Internship students engage in direct field work and related academic work that focuses on deepening students’ knowledge of, and ability to apply, human development and ecological perspectives to direct practice; as well as developing as critically conscious and ethical human services professionals and citizens. Students choose a placement from a variety of local human service agencies and organizations. Internship placement sites have included after-school youth programs, rape crisis and intimate partner violence prevention and intervention programs, social justice advocacy groups, centers for children who have experienced abuse and neglect, city and state government agencies, public and private schools, group homes, rehabilitation centers, local business and industry, early childhood education settings, hospitals, and senior centers.