Human Development Degree Programs with Course Information

Undergraduate and graduate programs in human development are interdisciplinary in nature, combining psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology and linguistics in an effort to understand the lifespan development of groups and individuals.

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Essential Information

Aspiring teachers, administrators, managers and social workers can develop expertise and enhance professional skills by earning a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in human development. Such programs emphasize topics such as child assessment, gerontology, public policy and cognitive development. Specializations are available at the doctoral level for those who want to pursue a specific area of study in the human development field. Prerequisites vary depending on degree level, but may include GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and entrance essays at the graduate level.


Bachelor of Arts in Human Development

The bachelor's degree program in human development focuses on effective strategies for working with children, adults and the elderly. Emphasis is placed on the family with some coursework in individual development. Graduates of the program may find work in public and private organizations. Coursework focuses on understanding the complex issues that occur over an individual's lifespan, including cognitive, physical, social and family development. Class topics may also include the following:

  • Child evaluation and assessment
  • Death and dying
  • Parent and child relationships
  • Child neglect and abuse
  • Working with individuals and families
  • Practicum in early childhood programs

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Resources

The master's degree program in human development is designed for people pursuing careers as case managers, administrators or program directors. Candidates learn about the organization and administration of early childhood programs as well as human development topics. Students learn to work effectively with couples, families and children; they are introduced to the range of resources available to families in need. In addition to human development theory, master's degree programs will explore topics like public policy, counseling and education. Coursework includes the following:

  • Basic counseling skills
  • Administration and organization of vocational cooperative education programs
  • Public policy for families and consumers
  • Consumer decision-making
  • Families in later life
  • Aging health aspects

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  • Adult Development and Aging
  • Child Care Management
  • Child Care Services
  • Child Development
  • Community Organization and Advocacy
  • Family and Community Services
  • Family Systems
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Social Work
  • Youth Services

Ph.D. in Human Development

A doctoral program in human development focuses on theories and research methodologies that can help the student gain increased knowledge of human development from an interdisciplinary perspective. The cognitive, social, emotional and biological aspects of human development are studied. Core coursework is designed to move the student toward specialization and research interests. The doctoral program is designed so that students can enter into areas of specialized research while completing core coursework, which may include the following:

  • Aging and cognition
  • Human growth and development research methods
  • Individual development
  • Cognitive and linguistic development issues
  • Critical and perceptual laterality development
  • Behavioral and emotional development in adolescents

Popular Career Options

Graduates with master's degrees in human development and family resources are qualified to help people deal with personal, social, academic and career issues, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Some popular career options include the following:

  • Labor relations manager
  • Special education teachers
  • Social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Social service assistants

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of doctoral degree programs in human development often seek employment as researchers and administrators, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also stated that many employers look for applicants who have completed post-doctoral fellowships. Human development is a diverse field with many career options, including social work. BLS data indicates employment prospects for social workers during the 2014 to 2024 period were predicted to be favorable, with a projected job growth rate of 12%. In 2015, social workers earned a median annual salary of $45,900, according to the BLS.

Human development programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels explore family relationships, counseling strategies and similar topics from an interdisciplinary perspective. Graduates of bachelor's programs may pursue work in entry-level social service positions, or they may consider enrolling in master's or doctoral programs, which can lead to research or administrative roles.

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