Human Development and Family Studies

As communities adapt to changing statewide and national demographics, the Human Development and Family Studies major will prepare you to work with people from the very young to the very old. In this field, you are trained to help people of all ages cope and conquer obstacles in order to lead a better, more fulfilling life. You will help them learn skills and strategies in:

  • Education
  • Child care
  • Youth development
  • Family interaction
  • Conflict resolution
  • Addiction/abuse treatment


As a graduate of the Human Development and Family Studies program, you are well-prepared for helping individuals and families overcome hardships. You are also able to pursue further education options in graduate programs.

Graduate programs in HDFS

Career Services
Prepare for your next job or internship with Career Services, where staff help you with job or internship searches, interview preparation, and resume/cover letter reviews.

Look at a list of career possibilities inside Human Development and Family Studies.


The human development and family studies (HDFS) department is housed in the Palmer Building, which is also home to the Iowa State University Child Development Laboratory School and the Financial Counseling Clinic. In addition to these facilities, you will have access to high-tech classrooms and computer labs.

Program Information

The Human Development and Family Studies degree offers three specialized options:

  • Child program: An option in the child program will prepare you to work with very young children, ages birth to 8 years, developing parental education programs, providing quality child care, advising families on critical issues, preventing child abuse, and advocating for child-friendly legislation.
  • Youth program: The youth program option curriculum focuses on adolescents and young adults, with course work in family interaction, special needs education, and adolescent development. Graduates have found their career niches as youth service providers, 4-H coordinators, halfway-house managers, and juvenile court probation officers.
  • Adult/family program: In the adult/family program option, you will be knowledgeable in the areas of family development and theory, conflict resolution, and abuse treatment. Potential career paths include adoption/foster care specialist, addiction counselor, and program/activity coordinator.

Human Development and Family Studies

Curriculum Requirements
2020-21 catalog requirements and program options

4-year Plans
2020-21 sample 4-year plans with adult and family program option
2020-21 sample 4-year plans with child option
2020-21 sample 4-year plans with youth option

General Education Requirements
Approved Course List for Social Sciences and Humanities

Background Check Policy for Practicum Courses


View class syllabi

Accelerated Degree

An accelerated degree option is available for each option in the Human Development and Family Studies.

Get Involved!

Study Abroad Programs

Are you considering a study abroad opportunity to broaden your educational perspectives and personal view of the world? We hope so!

The HDFS department offers various international opportunities through the College of Human Sciences International Programs office.


Internships are available with various organizations. For more information, visit our careers and internship page.

To apply for internships and full-time positions, use CyHire, on-campus career fairscareer services, or talk to your internship coordinator: Jen Van Ryswyk.

See where other students have interned. Visit Career Connections.

Ready for the Next Steps?

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