Learn to serve with excellence!

Human Development & Family Studies (HDFS) is an interdisciplinary major focusing on the development of individuals across the lifespan, within the context of family and culture. The HDFS major at UNC-Chapel Hill 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 and communities.

Click here to learn more about opportunities in the helping professions.

Mission Statement of HDFS

The mission of the Human Development and Family Studies program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is to promote the well-being of children, youth and families, in diverse developmental and societal contexts through evidence-based teaching, service, leadership, advocacy, research, and innovation.

What can i do with an HDFS degree?

Graduates of Family Science programs come highly-equipped in terms of knowledge and skills needed for work that strengthens families. To further ensure graduates will find career opportunities and be recognized as strong job candidates, the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and its members have developed several resources:

Find even more career resources for academia, research, practice, and students.

Diversified Studies

The development of young children, adolescents and their families is best understood from a broad interdisciplinary perspective – one that honors psychological, sociological, economic, medical, education, cultural and biological experiences. Students gain a deep understanding of how children from different backgrounds and abilities/disabilities develop over time in the context of families, schools and communities, and leave prepared to engage meaningfully with those communities.

Real-World Experience

Classroom assignments integrate theory with practice through service-learning and opportunities to interact with helping professionals in the community. Students may also work with faculty on research projects to promote the development of children and families.

The culminating experience allows students a full-time semester-long internship in which they can gain valuable real-life experience in a work setting they might want to enter in their career.

Expert Support

Rather than focus on laboratory studies, faculty in the School of Education will teach students how children and youth from diverse backgrounds and with diverse abilities/disabilities develop and change in the context of family, schools, and communities as well as the challenges children and youth face in the twenty first century. This approach provides realistic clarity for students exploring their post-collegiate career options, and allow faculty and staff to better support students as they prepare to enter the professional world.

Program Goals

Upon completion of the Human Development and Family Studies program, students should be able to:

  • Apply theories and knowledge about lifespan human development from many perspectives—psychological, sociological, educational, and cultural
  • Demonstrate awareness of professional behaviors and ethical considerations needed to serve children, youth, and families
  • Assess individual and family experiences from diverse cultural backgrounds and perspectives, such as race, ethnicity, sexual identities, ability, socioeconomic status, immigrant status, and urban versus rural settings
  • Demonstrate the ability to develop resources and initiatives using appropriate strategies and technologies to support the well-being of children, families, schools, and communities through presentations, research, and service learning

Recent News

Stories about our students
Three HDFS students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa
Dec 6, 2018
Three School of Education students – all majoring in Human Development and Family Studies – are among Carolina students who have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most honored college honorary society.
School of Education graduates first students from new major
May 14, 2018
The School of Education held its 2018 graduation ceremony on Saturday, celebrating 167 graduates, including 28 in the first cohort to complete the Human Development and Family Studies major.
Human Development and Family Studies internships open doors for students
March 21, 2018
Students in the new program say the internships have given them valuable experience that leads to jobs or acceptance into graduate school.
Human Development and Family Studies celebrates first graduate
February 21, 2018
Sarah Margaret Christy joined the program in her senior year, just in time to become the School of Education's first HDFS graduate
HDFS Newsletter Archive

Program Details

HDFS Curriculum and Course Work

The HDFS major offers students applied experience in a helping profession, while grounding them in the research and evidence-based practices that can lead to becoming the most skilled professionals. There are 45 credit hours required in the HDFS major.

The HDFS degree will not lead to teacher licensure unless a student wishes to enter an MAT program for that purpose.

Students admitted prior to Fall 2018

12 credit hours in required HDFS classes

9 credit hours in EDUC elective classes

9 credit hours in non-EDUC classes related to a helping profession

15 credit hours for Culminating Experience (semester-long internship during senior year)

  • EDUC 583: Internship planning (3hrs)
  • EDUC 390: Internship Project (3hrs)
  • EDUC 698: Internship in HDFS (9hrs)

See full HDFS Course Catalog for Students prior to Fall 2018

Students admitted Fall 2018 and after

15 credit hours in required HDFS classes

9 credit hours in EDUC elective classes

9 credit hours in non-EDUC classes related to a helping profession

12 credit hours for Culminating Experience (semester-long internship during senior year)

  • EDUC 583: Internship planning (3hrs)
  • EDUC 698: Internship in HDFS (9hrs)

See full HDFS Course Catalog for Fall 2018 Students

HDFS Honors Program

The Honors program/thesis offers undergraduates in the School of Education the opportunity to sharpen their skills of analysis, synthesis, and research. It also provides a means for outstanding students to graduate from the University and the School of Education with honors. This may be particularly attractive and advantageous for those students interested in graduate and/or professional schools. Students find this research and writing experience rewarding and stimulating and particularly beneficial to their future career and professional goals.

Students will be mentored and supported throughout the process. Each student will select a thesis mentor/advisor based on shared interests and the availability of the faculty member to advise the student during the thesis work. Students are expected to work independently at times but meet regularly with their thesis advisor for support. We hope you will consider being part of the Honors program.

Requirements of the HDFS Honors Program:

  • You must be majoring in Human Development and Family Studies;
  • You must have and maintain a minimum overall GPA at UNC of 3.3 to begin, remain in and graduate with Honors;
  • During the spring semester of your Junior year, you must enroll in EDUC 691H, “Honors Seminar in Education,” and you must obtain a grade of “B” or better in this course.
  • During the fall of your Senior year in the “non-internship semester”, you must enroll in EDUC 694H, “Honors Thesis in Education.” In this course, you will be expected to write an original thesis and defend it in an oral examination.
  • Your thesis will be supervised by a thesis Advisor from the faculty in the School of Education.
  • Only by successfully writing and defending your thesis can you graduate from the University “with honors”.

Participating in the Honors Program is in addition to your specific degree requirements. The TWO Honors Program courses cannot be substituted for courses that are required in your degree program. In some cases this will require taking a course overload or enrolling for an additional semester or summer session.

Click here for more information about writing an Honors thesis at Carolina.

If you decide you would like to participate in the Honors Program in the School of Education, please complete the SOE Honors Application by Wednesday, October 31 at 11:00 pm.

If you have any questions about the process, please contact Helyne Frederick at helyne@email.unc.edu or any of the HDFS faculty.

Program Faculty

Photo of Dr. Helyne Frederick

Dr. Helyne Frederick

Director & Clinical Associate Professor

Photo of Dr. Harriet Able

Dr. Harriet Able

Associate Professor of Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support Coordinator of M.Ed. Program for Experienced Teachers (ECIFS) and Applied Developmental Sciences and Special Education

Photo of Dr. Jennifer Diliberto

Dr. Jennifer Diliberto

linical Associate Professor of Special Education

Photo of Dr. Sandra Evarrs

Dr. Sandra Evarrs

Clinical Associate Professor of School Psychology

Photo of Dr. Dana Griffin

Dr. Dana Griffin

Associate Professor

Photo of Dr. Robert Martinez

Dr. Robert Martinez

Assistant Professor

Photo of Dr. Roger Mills-Koonce

Dr. Roger Mills-Koonce

Associate Professor

Photo of Dr. Rebecca New

Dr. Rebecca New

Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education

How to Apply

The HDFS major is open to all students that are in good academic standing and have enough time left to complete the curriculum. A GPA of 2.5 is expected along with a brief personal statement and relevant volunteer experiences.

PLEASE NOTE for students that intend to apply for the BA/MAT program a 3.0 GPA average is required for admission into that MAT program. This GPA requirement is a requirement for licensure as determined by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis for fall and spring semesters. Admitted students are expected to begin coursework the following semester. We encourage students apply early and submit the admissions materials by the following application deadlines:

Application Deadlines

For Spring 2019 Admissions

Final Deadline: October 23, 2018

For Fall 2019 Admissions

Priority Deadline: February 12, 2019
Final Deadline: June 11, 2019

Application Instructions

Step 1: Request a Major Change

To apply to the HDFS major, you must first request a major change within Connect Carolina.

Once you have submitted the request to change your major in ConnectCarolina, you will receive an email from the Slate application system that includes a link to the online application. Please note that it may take 24-72 hours to receive the application email.

Step 2: Complete your Application

Log into Slate to complete your application. The application includes two components:

  1. Submit the online application. We recommend that you complete the entire application in one sitting.
  2. Upload a Personal Statement (One page) sharing why you are interested in HDFS, your interest working with children, families, and communities, and your future career plans. Include any related work and volunteer experiences.

Step 3: Accept Offer of Admission

Notification of acceptance will typically occur within 2 weeks after the admissions deadline. If you receive an acceptance notification, you MUST return to the Slate application system to accept the offer of admission in order to officially be added to the program.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact the following School of Education faculty and student services staff for assistance.

For questions about applying or advising, please contact:

Audrey Beth Fulton, Director of Advising and Undergraduate Student Engagement

Patricia Harris, Director of Recruitment

For questions about the program, please contact:

Helyne Frederick, Faculty Program Coordinator