Why Major in HDFS?
Human Development and Family Studies is rooted in many social science disciplines. The Human Development and Family Studies program at Penn State was among the first of its kind in the nation and continues to be one of the most respected.
Human development is best understood by looking at the whole person, rather than from the narrow perspective of a single discipline. The HDFS program focuses on the role and importance of family and family systems. Family systems thinking recognizes the interrelationship between family members and their environment. Students learn to understand that individuals are not limited to a single family environment, but often coexist among a variety of multi-dimensional, multi-layered family settings. Students are taught how societal problems such as substance abuse, domestic violence, financial struggles, delinquency and child abuse can be more effectively addressed from a perspective that considers the individual and family as interrelated and part of a larger system. Knowledge about healthy family functioning can be applied to prevent or minimize many of these problems. The major also features several internship opportunities, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
Graduation and Beyond
This major is a multidisciplinary program that examines the development of individuals and families across the life span. It enables students to prepare for professional, managerial or scientific roles in the following domains:
- Business, consumer and family resource services
- Community-based social services
- Faith-based organizations
- Family intervention
- Crisis intervention
- Early childhood education
- Government and public policy
- Healthcare and family wellness
- International education and development
- Writing and communications
Through coursework and undergraduate internships or research projects, students develop skills relevant to career objectives, such as:
- Case manager
- Human resources
- Social worker
- Youth development worker
- Employee assistance
- Community educator
- Academic advising
- Sexual violence advocate
The HDFS program also prepares students for graduate studies in the areas of child life, counseling, couple and family therapy, education, family studies, gerontology, higher education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, public health and social work.
To read more about potential careers for HDFS majors, please see the infographic from the National Council on Family Relations.