Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies

High-Impact Master's Education

The graduate program aims to generate graduates who are well versed in relevant theories, research methods, and the conduct and dissemination of quality research so that they are able to understand the current body of literature in HDFS and are prepared to expand this knowledge base through research of their own.

Program Foundation

The HDFS graduate program is founded on several core philosophical values. First, we encourage students to develop skills in identifying families’ strengths and to develop an appreciation of diversity in age, race and ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, learning styles, and abilities.

Second, we emphasize the importance of education and prevention in addition to intervention, with the recognition that stress, loss and change are normal aspects of life experiences. Thus, we provide students with accurate information on developmental characteristics and interpersonal interactions so that they can most effectively work with individuals and families to lessen problems that arise because of misinformation about what is considered “normal”. The program recognizes that the distinction between prevention and intervention is not always clear, and encourages students to develop skills that can bridge these areas.

Third, to better appreciate the complexity of individuals, the HDFS graduate program strives to foster in students an understanding of cognitive, biological, and socioemotional development and the interactions of these components across each stage of the lifespan. To better appreciate the complexity of families, the program strives to foster in students an awareness of the development of family systems, roles, and reciprocal interactions. We encourage students to look at families as more than just interpersonal interactions, and to address family resources that can contribute to stress or resilience during times of crisis or change.

Fourth, consistent with an ecological perspective, the HDFS graduate program emphasizes the contexts within which individuals and families develop and function. As such, we believe that an understanding of these multiple contexts, including cultural and societal influences, is essential in any attempt to understand individuals and families.

Our goal is to provide graduates who are prepared for roles in professions requiring:

  • Knowledge of biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional characteristics of humans across the lifespan;
  • Knowledge of family systems and family interactions;
  • Knowledge of effective communication for working with individuals and families;
  • Assessment and improvement of resources needed by individuals, families, and their communities;
  • The ability to provide education about individual development and family life;
  • The ability to combine elements of education, prevention, and early intervention; and
  • The ability to work in an intergenerational context and with diverse families.

Application Dates

March 1 (Fall) | Oct 1 (Spring)

Program Requirements

Before beginning the Masters program in HDFS, students are expected to have completed some credits in HDFS or related disciplines, including an introductory level course on lifespan development (similar to HDFS 201), an introductory course on families (similar to HDFS 202), and an undergraduate course in research methods or statistics (e.g., HDFS 391).

Students who are accepted into the program without these prerequisites will be required to complete coursework in the deficit area(s) prior to beginning official graduate coursework. A plan for making up the deficit areas will be developed with the Director of Graduate Studies and the student’s initial advisor upon student admission to the program. Prerequisite course credits do not count toward completion of the M.S. degree.

Program Hours

During the first year of study (or no later than the completion of 9-12 credits), students are required to file a Program of Study plan with the Graduate School. The form is available on the Graduate School website. Students complete this form in consultation with their faculty advisor. The form lists the courses taken or to be taken to complete the degree, as well as the composition of the student’s Advisory-Examining Committee.

For a Program of Study plan to be approved, the following Program and University criteria must be met:

  • A minimum of 33 graduate level credits (courses at the 600-700 level) must be taken. A 400/600-level course that was taken at the 400-level as an undergraduate may not be repeated at the 600-level.
  • At least 18 of the 33 credits must be in HDFS.
  • At least 12 of the 33 credits must be at the 700-level. [Note: HDFS 752
  • and 755 are typically reserved for doctoral students in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Social Psychology.]
  • 6 credits of thesis (HDFS 797) or 3 credits of professional paper (HDFS 796) must be taken. These (6) credits do not count toward the (12) 700-level credit requirement discussed above. Students may enroll for more than 6 credits of thesis, but only 6 credits may count toward the graduate degree.
  • See the current catalog for information on maximum number of credits of HDFS 600 and 601 for which a student can enroll.
  • A maximum of 3 credits of S/U, including transfer credits, may be applied toward the master's degree.
  • All graduate courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or better in order to satisfy graduate program requirements. Grades of a “C-“ or below are considered failing grades in graduate school and will not count in a student’s program of study.

Program Contact Information

Lydia DeFlorio, Ph.D.

Program Faculty

Human Development and Family Studies
Melissa Burnham
Melissa Burnham, Ph.D.
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Early Childhood Education she, her, hers
(775) 784-7012
WRB 4107
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Lydia DeFlorio
Lydia DeFlorio, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
(775) 682-5503
WRB 3077
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Sam Ehrenreich
Sam Ehrenreich, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
(775) 682-5506
WRB 3007
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Samuel Ehrenreich
Samuel Ehrenreich
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
William Evans
William Evans, Ph.D.
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, State Extension Specialist he, him, his
(775) 784-7013
WRB 3037
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Hyun-Joo Jeon
Hyun-Joo Jeon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
(775) 784-7005
WRB 3031
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Sarah Mitchell
Sarah Mitchell, Ph.D., CFLE-P
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies She/her/hers
(775) 784-1161
WRB 3070
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Jennifer Mortensen
Jennifer Mortensen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
(775) 682-5507
WRB 3035
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Pamela Payne
Pamela Payne, Ph.D., CFLE
Assistant Professor of Human Development & Family Studies
(775) 682-6637
WRB 3018
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Linda Starr
Linda Starr
Admin Assistant III, Counseling and Educational Psychology/Human Development and Family Studies
(775) 682-5517
WRB 3045
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Bridget Walsh
Bridget Walsh, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
(775) 784-7007
WRB 3020
1415
Human Development and Family Studies
Sherry Waugh
Sherry Waugh, M.S.
CFRC Director
(775) 682-6840
SFB 0141
1415