2023 Best Online Human Development and Family Studies [Bachelor’s Guide]

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Explore online human development and family studies bachelor's programs in 2023. Prepare for a rewarding career helping individuals and families thrive.

By earning a human development and family studies bachelor’s degree, you can prepare to help people from all walks of life.

Best Online Human Development and Family Studies

You can gain skills for working with kids, parents, and the elderly, and you’ll learn about programs and systems designed to support individuals and families.

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This field of study can help equip you with practical tips for building connections, sharing knowledge, and meeting people’s needs. A human development major could prepare you for a rewarding career of impacting others.

Online Human Development and Family Studies Degrees

Man taking Human Development and Family Studies online

Are you interested in people, their development processes, and their interactions with others? If so, you might enjoy studying human and family development in college.

This is an interesting field of study that could be a good fit for many people. You would take an assortment of classes related to social science, social services, and education. For example, the curriculum might cover topics like:

  • Human lifespan development
  • Social science statistics
  • Family advocacy
  • Programming methods

Such varied studies could prepare you for work in a variety of fields. To help you develop expertise in a particular area, you might be able to select a concentration for your degree. The specialization options could include early childhood development, social services and case management, or aging services.

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Not all colleges offer concentration tracks. Others may let you select electives that will support your career goals. Available electives might address:

  • Adolescence
  • Counseling and therapy
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Mental and behavioral disorders
  • Parenting
  • Public policy

During your studies, you might be required to earn observation hours or complete practicums. Those are often done in learning settings for young children, such as preschool or daycare classrooms.

You can expect to study research and data in this program. You can become familiar with the quantitative and qualitative methods that social scientists use, and you’ll also read scholarly reports. There may also be a major research project or paper due at the end of your program.

Some college programs in human development and family studies are designed to prepare you for industry certifications. For example, you could pursue Certified Child Life Specialist or Certified Family Life Educator status. Often, these certifications require additional coursework or practical experiences beyond what’s needed for college graduation.

After completing your studies in this field, you might want to find a job working with kids, adolescents, or the elderly. You could also support the diverse needs of adults or families. You might pursue roles in human service agencies, childcare facilities, assisted living communities, or substance abuse treatment centers.

Family Studies and Human Development Careers & Salaries

Family Studies and Human Development Careers & Salaries

A human development and family sciences degree could be useful for many different career paths. Relevant sectors include education, child services, eldercare, counseling, social work, healthcare, business, and nonprofit work.

If you want to work in education, you might focus on teaching young children. You may start as a preschool aide, a preschool teacher, or a childcare worker. In time, some professionals become directors of preschools or childcare centers.

Those aren’t the only job opportunities involving young children. Some graduates coordinate learning or recreational experiences in camps, parks departments, museums, or community centers. Similar skills might be useful when working with the elderly. Nursing homes, for example, hire recreation professionals to work as activity directors or assistants.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in community and social service are growing at a 12% rate and have a median annual salary of $48,410.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Medical and Health Services Managers $101,340
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Public Relations Specialists $62,800
Human Resources Specialists $62,290
Social Workers $50,390
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $48,520
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $47,310
Community Health Workers $46,590
Social and Human Service Assistants $37,610
Recreation Workers $29,680

This area of study is relevant to many career paths. Through graduate studies, you may hone your expertise and qualify for more advanced roles.

People of all ages can benefit from counseling services. In many states, substance abuse education or counseling requires only a bachelor’s degree. With advanced training, you may be better qualified for roles in behavioral, mental health, or marriage and family counseling.

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Social and human services are related fields. You might qualify to be an assistant, a social worker, or the director of a community agency. Licensing rules vary from state to state. Healthcare is another field where you might provide leadership. For example, some professionals coordinate care services in community clinics, treatment centers, or assisted living homes.

Your understanding of human development and relationships could also be useful for business-type roles. Some graduates take a role in human resources or public relations. Such opportunities might be available in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Family and Human Development Studies Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses

Group of students taking Family and Human Development Studies

During your bachelor’s in human development and family studies program, you’ll likely learn about child development, social services, family dynamics, and more.

Sample courses include:

  • Community Relationships: This course may address ways to build productive ties between families and the communities in which they live.
  • Death and Grief: You can study the grief cycle and learn about ways to help people cope with death, loss, and other traumas.
  • Diversity: You’ll explore issues of ethnicity and diversity and consider how cultural norms influence family behaviors.
  • Family Studies: Not only will you examine family structures, relationships, and dynamics, but you might also think about the role that the family unit plays in society.
  • Health and Wellness: In this class, you might discuss child nutrition, consider methods of health promotion, and even learn some medical terminology.
  • Lifespan Development: You’ll study how people grow and change—not only physically but also cognitively and emotionally—from birth through old age.
  • Programming: This course will teach you how to plan and implement programs for children, families, or adults.
  • Sexuality: You might take a class that looks at sexual behavior and relationships through scientific, sociological, and ethical lenses.
  • Social Science Research: It’s common to have a class about the research methods and data analysis techniques that social scientists use.
  • Social Services: You can learn about social service agencies—their structures and functions—and discuss professional conduct for social service providers.

You may get to choose several electives to help prepare you for the career path of your choice.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for Family and Human Development Studies

The first step to earning an online degree in human development and family studies is being admitted to college.

For the admissions process, colleges may request:

  • Application form and the required processing fee
  • Proof of high school education—school transcripts or GED certificate
  • SAT or ACT scores (only needed for some colleges)
  • Written statement about your life, goals, or professional experience

Other requirements may include reference letters, a resume, or an interview. These vary among schools, so your application packet is likely to look a little different for each college where you apply.

Accreditation

University offering Family and Human Development Studies

It’s strategic to focus your college search on schools with regional accreditation. Accredited schools have good reputations, and an independent accrediting body has confirmed that they meet set standards.

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Attending a regionally accredited college can benefit you in multiple ways. For instance, the credits you earn are more likely to transfer from one school to another. You may also have a better chance of being admitted to grad school. You may even find that having a regionally accredited college on your resume helps your job search.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid for Family and Human Development Studies

If the cost of a college education is holding you back, you may want to look into your options for financial aid. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) could be your first step.

Based on your FAFSA information, you might qualify for government loans and grants. The state in which you reside might offer similar support. Scholarships are another source of funding for some students. Colleges often give scholarship funds to qualifying students, and other organizations can offer scholarship opportunities as well.

In addition, employees sometimes receive workplace support. If you’re currently working, you can ask your HR department whether you qualify for this perk.

What Is an HDFS Major?

A human development and family studies (HDFS) major is a bachelor’s degree program that focuses on working with people. Often considered a four-year degree, this bachelor’s program includes studies in human growth and development, child education, human services, aging, and family relationships.

People often choose this degree with the goal of becoming early childhood professionals, activities directors, substance abuse counselors, or social service providers. Some also use their studies to launch careers in public relations or human resources.

Is Human Development and Family Studies a Good Major?

Mental Health Counselor in a session with a patient

Yes, human development and family studies is a good major for many undergraduate students. Coursework in this field could put you on the road toward a career in helping others.

Job opportunities related to this degree are varied. You might work with young kids, the elderly, or families in need. Related jobs might entail education, counseling, or administrative services. In a role like community services director, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that salaries tend to range from $46,550 to $118,650.

What Can You Do with a Human Development Degree?

Graduates with a background in human development often fit well in jobs that require an understanding of people. Having learned about child development, you might pursue roles like preschool teacher, childcare director, camp programming manager, or youth mentor.

Your classes on social services could help prepare you to be a case manager, a program director, or a social worker in a community agency. Licensure requirements for social workers can vary by state. Some graduates go on to work in human resources or public relations, while others go on to earn an on-campus or online human development masters degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that schools, businesses, government agencies, and other employers hire for those roles.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelors Degree in Human Development and Family Studies?

Woman completing her Human Development and Family Studies online

Colleges with traditional 16 week terms usually say that you can earn a bachelor’s degree in human development in about 4 years. That estimate is valid only for full-time students. Part-time studies generally take longer. Online programs sometimes use a different approach that features quicker terms.

Offered back-to-back throughout the length of the program, the classes may last only about 8 weeks each. For a bachelor’s degree, that format might allow you to graduate in 3.5 years or less. Transfer credits can often shorten your program, and some colleges will let you transfer in up to 90 credit hours.

Is a Bachelors in Family and Human Development Studies Worth It?

Yes, a bachelors in family and human development studies is worth it for many students. This is a versatile degree that could help you develop qualifications as a professional who helps others.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the need for community and social service positions is growing at a 12% rate over the next ten years. Meanwhile, there’s 15% job growth expected in social and community service management. A degree in human development and family studies could also act as a solid foundation for graduate studies in education, social work, counseling, or related fields.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Public University

American Public University campus

American Public University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies. Each course is 8 or 16 weeks long, and there are monthly start dates. Prospective students can apply throughout the year without submitting test scores. Coursework includes Introduction to Child Development, Research Methods for Sociology, Statistics for Social Science, and more.

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Family and Human Development that can be earned online in an accelerated 7.5 week format. Courses include Modern Family Relationships, Family Ethnic and Cultural Diversity, Human Development, and more. The program can be customized through a wide range of elective choices.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

Colorado State University offers an online program for a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies. Students have five concentrations to choose from, including a specific Human Development and Family Studies concentration.

Other options are Early Childhood Professions, Leadership and Entrepreneurial Professions, Pre-Health Professions, and Prevention and Intervention Sciences. All concentrations include field experiences.

Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University campus

Kansas State University offers a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Science that can be earned 100% online. Coursework includes Introduction to Human Development, Introduction to Research Methods in Human Development and Family Science, Social Justice in a Family Context, and more. Students in the program may also participate in an internship.

Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Maryville University

Maryville University campus

Maryville University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies. It has six different tracks to choose from, including a General Human Development and Family Studies track.

Other track options are Child Life Specialist, Adult Development and Aging, Early Childhood Development, Family Life Education, and Youth Development. Students in the program are given service-learning opportunities. Classes are taught by instructors with real-world experience.

Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Metropolitan State University campus

Metropolitan State University of Denver offers a BA in Human Development and Family Studies that can be earned online, in person, or in a hybrid format. The program includes various internship and service-learning opportunities. Course options include Introductory Psychology, Statistics for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Child Psychopathology, and more.

MSU Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University campus

Oregon State University offers a BS in Human Development and Family Sciences. Oregon State follows a quarterly academic calendar, so there are four start dates every year. Coursework includes General Psychology, Infant and Child Development, Critical Thinking in Human Development and Family Sciences, Applied Research Methods, and more.

Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies. It is designed to provide flexibility so that students can study on own their schedules.

Students in the program are expected to complete internships in their communities to gain hands-on experience. Coursework includes Family Development, Empirical Inquiry in Human Development, Family Relationships, and more.

Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University campus

South Dakota State University offers a BS in Human Development and Family Studies that can be earned online. The program is flexible to give students the opportunity to work at their own pace and includes a supervised experience in a professional setting. Graduates often pursue work in childcare facilities, nonprofits, and other human services organizations.

South Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Stephen F. Austin State University

Stephen F Austin State University campus

Stephen F. State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences with a concentration in Human Development and Family Studies. Students must complete a 200 hour practicum, but coursework can otherwise be completed entirely online. The program is designed to help students become Certified Family Life Educators.

Stephen F. Austin State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Alabama

University of Alabama campus

The University of Alabama offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child Life. Coursework includes Infant and Toddlerhood, Parent and Family Development, Hospitalized Children and Youth, Play in Child Development, and more. Some courses require field placements.

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas campus

The Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Arkansas can be earned 100% online and usually takes 4 years to complete. Graduates have gone on to pursue careers in counseling, child welfare, youth corrections, and related fields. The program’s graduate school and employment placement rate is 70%.

The University of Arkansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Carolina – Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus

The University of North Carolina—Greensboro offers a rigorous online program for a BS in Human Development and Family Studies. Some classes have set meeting times, which are usually in the evenings or during the lunch hour. The program is designed to prepare students for Birth through Kindergarten Teacher Licensure in the state of North Carolina.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Wisconsin – Stout

University of Wisconsin Stout campus

The University of Wisconsin—Stout offers a BS in Human Development and Family Studies that can be earned online and on campus. The program includes applied learning opportunities and is often a good fit for students who enjoy helping others. Coursework includes Healthy Couple Relationships, Human Development: Early Childhood, Cultural Awareness in Practice, and more.

The University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Utah State University

Utah State University campus

Utah State University offers a BS and a BA in Human Development and Family Studies. Both programs are available on campus and online. Students can pursue an emphasis in Family and Community Services, Child Development, Family Finance, or Human Development Lifespan.

Utah State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies Online

Man pursuing Degree in Human Development and Family Studies Online

A bachelors in human development and family studies degree can help you launch a career in helping people and providing valuable community support.

Whether you’d like to work in daycares, human service agencies, nursing homes, treatment programs, or other settings, this people-focused degree can be beneficial and versatile. Plus, this is a degree program that’s suitable for online learning.

Online formats are especially strategic for busy students and those who live far from campus. Distance classes from accredited colleges can lead to well-respected human and family studies degrees.

To begin your educational journey in this growing field, you can survey your options for online human development degrees and consider which accredited school is right for you.

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WRITTEN BY
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.