Learn to serve with excellence!

Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) is a pre-professional major for undergraduate students interested in careers that will improve the lives of children and families across the variety of contexts and cultures in which families live, learn and work. These careers are called "Helping Professions" and might include education, public health, social work, health services, business services, counseling services, and more.

HDFS students graduate with a unique set of skills and experiences that make them highly sought-after candidates for graduate and licensure programs.

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

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 Details

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. They are broken down as follows. Click on a requirement to see more details about class options.

EDUC 181: Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies

The introductory class exposes students to the theory, research, and professions in Human Development from birth to early adulthood. (This course is required and should be taken in the first semester a student enters the major.)

EDUC 401: Introduction to Early Childhood Development: Birth to Eight

This course examines the field of child development as it contributes to the teaching and learning of children in early childhood and elementary educational settings, ages birth to eight.

EDUC 532: Introduction to Development and Learning

This course examines the field of human development as it contributes to the teaching and learning of all children. The emphasis is on understanding the nature of development in educational contexts and the implications of research and theory on human development for teacher practice and the creation of supportive learning environments for all children.

EDUC 410: Promotive Youth Services in Community and School Environments

This course is an exploration of the research and theory about programs that promote youth development and prevent youth problems in the central contexts where youth function (i.e., home, school, outside of school activities, sports, peer networks, etc.). Career options (e.g., social work, law enforcement, teaching, and community outreach work) will also be explored in real life work settings.

EDUC 403: Families, Schools, and Communities

This course examines issues of diversity among and across families within 21st-century schools and communities. The course stresses strategies for effective communication and collaboration with families, professional team members, and school and community resources.

EDUC 408: Research Methods in Human Development and Family Studies

This class introduces students to the research methods used in human development research and will be used as the basis for developing a research project during the internship. (This course is required to be taken before the internship sequence of 15 hours).

Elective classes may be chosen from: EDUC 400, 504, 505, 506, 508, 507, 509, 510, 511, 521, 522, 525, 526, 527, 529, 533, 567

All courses are 3 credit hours

Non-EDUC classes related to a helping profession may be chosen from: AAAD 130, AAAD 231, AAAD 341, AAAD/WMST 386, ANTH /WMST 277, ANTH 226, ANTH 318, ANTH 380, ANTH 439, ANTH 629, COMM 224, COMM 318, COMM 422, COMM 576, ENGL 284, ENGL 291, EXSS 210, EXSS 211, HIST 367, INLS 534, LTAM 291, LING 101, LING 200, LING 203, MATH 307, NUTR 240, PLCY 530, PSYC 210, PSYC 222, PSYC 245, PSYC 250, PSYC 260, PSYC 465, PSYC 467, PSYC 468, PSYC 471, PSYC 507, PSYC 512, SOCI 122, SOCI 130, SOCI 423, SOCI 425, SOCI 426, SOCI 444, SOCI 470, SOWO 401, WMST 101

The HDFS program ends in a Culminating Experience - an internship in a community agency related to the student's interests.

The experience is broken up into 3 sections:

  • EDUC 583: Planning the Internship Experience - 3 credit hours
    The internship experience begins with a 3 credit hour class which should be taken the semester immediately preceding the intended internship semester. During this course faculty will help each individual student find an appropriate placement. The student is responsible for contacting the agency and getting all appropriate clearances for participation in the agency. For example, state or federal agencies, (e.g., hospitals, clinics, etc.) will require students to have liability insurance and background checks. The internship planning might also include participating with a faculty member in the School of Education who has an applied research project with children, families or schools. As part of the planning for the internship, the students will write a proposal for a project to be completed during the internship semester that will be the culmination of their undergraduate experience.
  • EDUC 593: Internship Experience - 9 credit hours - completed in fall or spring of Senior year
    The formal internship experience can take place almost anywhere in North Carolina, including the student’s home town or on a research project with faculty in the School of Education. Although less intensive than supervising student teaching, an internship gives students real life experience in a professional setting. The supervising faculty member will contact students and supervising professionals each week to monitor progress and resolve any problems.
  • Internship Project - 3 credit hours - completed during internship experience
    As part of the internship experience, the students will complete a project in conjunction with the agency’s needs that results in a written completed project. This project could be a case study, an evaluation of services (using an existing or newly developed questionnaire or instrument) or interviewing clients as examples. The proposal for this project will have already been approved in the Spring of their Junior year in the Planning Internship class.
    * No other college level classes can be taken during the internship semester.

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

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. Rebecca New

Dr. Rebecca New

Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education

Photo of Dr. Sharon Palsha

Dr. Sharon Palsha

Clinical 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.

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 will be reviewed at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters and admitted students are expected to begin coursework the following semester.

The HDFS program is currently accepting applications.

Click here for full application instructions

For questions about applying or advising, please contact:

Audrey Beth Fulton, Director of Advising and Undergraduate Student Engagement

For questions about the program, please contact:

Helyne Frederick, Faculty Program Coordinator