Online Human Development Degree Program Overviews

Get relevant info regarding online programs in human development. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Online human development programs are available at the bachelor's degree level. Students may be able to enroll in either 4-year, fully online programs or accelerated programs that take about two years to complete. Admission requirements for accelerated programs typically include completion of general education courses and some major-specific courses as well. Some programs may require a student to complete fieldwork.

One possible career path with a bachelor's degree in human development is school or family counseling. Counselors typically need a minimum of a master's degree to practice, and those in private practice are required to be licensed. Check for state-specific requirements when choosing a degree program.

Bachelor's Degree in Human Development

Bachelor's degree programs in this field might be found under the titles of Bachelor of Science in Family and Human Development, Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies or a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development. These programs focus on the development of human life from infancy to death. Students often choose to specialize in subjects such as development in women or early childhood development. Course topics include diversity and cultural awareness.

The programs focus on human development in relation to various social circumstances. Strong communication skills are obtained and are necessary for potential careers in counseling, government or social service. There are also specific bachelor's degree programs available for aspiring educators who already have a degree in education and wish to further their knowledge of human development.

Program Information and Requirements

These degree programs are generally full-time and can be completed in four years. Students enroll in around 120 credit hours, including general education coursework. For students who already have completed general education courses or hold another degree, there are accelerated programs available. The accelerated programs can be completed in less than two years. Human development bachelor's degree programs can be taken entirely online. Some programs incorporate an on-site learning experience that allows the student to gain experience working in his or her respective specialization field. Programs incorporate streaming video and pre-recorded lectures into the online instruction format.

Students must have a computer that has access to the Internet. Due to streaming video and other technical demands, it is helpful if the computer has an up-to-date web browser and operating system.

Course Topics

Most often, the coursework is asynchronous, which means it can be taken at any time. Coursework includes program-specific courses, as well as some electives. Typical courses include the following:

Family Development

In this course, students gain an understanding of how an individual develops in the context of a family setting. The course focuses on the cognitive and emotional development of individuals, factoring in variables like culture, education and physical health.

Cultural Dynamics

This course focuses on the ideologies of different cultures and their social impact. Study topics include gender, family structures, workplace dynamics and social hierarchies.

Adult Development

Students learn the process of aging in middle-aged adults and senior citizens. The course focuses on development issues that this demographic faces based on social and cultural circumstances, among other factors.

Child Development

This course covers the development of a child from infancy to pre-adolescence. Students learn development principles like parenting techniques and prenatal care. Topics also include brain structure, thought patterns and parental conditionings.

Career Information

Graduates of this type of program are able to use the acquired knowledge to pursue careers in education, counseling or social work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors held about 253,460 jobs nationwide as of May 2015. The vast majority of these counselors worked in education ( The same source states that school and career counselor employment is expected to grow by 8%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024. As of May 2015, the BLS reported an average annual income of $56,490 for a counselor working in education.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of a human development program might wish to pursue additional degrees in fields like education, counseling and social work. There are online programs in those related fields at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Students who choose to pursue education and counseling often must complete state licensing and certification exams, which are often incorporated into the degree program, but not necessarily available online. One organization that offers such a program is the National Board for Certified Counselors.

There are a couple of options for individuals hoping to pursue an online degree program in human development, depending on their past education. For students who have already completed some basic general education requirements, it is possible to enroll in an accelerated 2-year program in human development, while those with no prior coursework can choose a standard 4-year program.

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