Undergraduate degree programs in human development offer students interdisciplinary coursework in anthropology, human biology and psychology. These programs may allow you to choose an area of interest or participate in fieldwork opportunities. Associate's degree programs provide students with foundational knowledge in several subjects relevant to human development. Bachelor's degree programs are more research-intensive and often include field projects, laboratory opportunities and clinical work experiences. Both degree levels require incoming students to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Associate's Degree in Human Development
Associate's degree programs in human development can prepare a student for an entry-level career in a human services field or for a continuing education opportunity. Understanding the patterns of development throughout different life stages in regards to individuals, groups and cultures is one of the main objectives of these programs. Some programs allow students to choose from focus areas such as adult development and aging services or children, youth and family services. Analytical, recording and interpreting, observation, communication and research skills are commonly emphasized in these programs. The typical length of these programs is two years and common course topics may be:
- Cultural anthropology
- Child development
- Adolescent development
Bachelor's Degree in Human Development
Bachelor's degree programs in this field can also be called health and human development and human development and family studies degrees. In addition to building on the foundational knowledge developed in an associate's degree program, students examine more advanced topics related to human development. The coursework for these programs prepares students for graduate programs and careers in a variety of settings. The primary goal of the program is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to improve the lives of people across the lifespan through teaching, research and work. Bachelor's degree curriculum takes four yeas to complete and helps students develop intervention, group process, evaluation and program planning skills. Common course topics may be:
- Marriage and family development
- Human sexuality
- Interpersonal relationships
- Adult development
- Race and ethnicity in families
Popular Career Choices
Associate's degree programs in human development typically prepare students to transfer to bachelor's degree programs in related fields of study, but some entry-level service positions can be obtained after completion of an associate's degree. Work settings may include:
- Public welfare or family service agencies
- Nursing homes
- Women's resource centers
Bachelor's degree graduates usually have diverse career options. Graduates can find employment in government, community or other human services organizations where they can serve families, children and youth.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Because of the range of career possibilities, job prospects and salaries can vary significantly. In general, social workers earned an annual median salary of $50,470 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job growth of social workers is expected to increase by 11% between 2018-2028, according to the BLS, which is considered much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also stated that individuals involved in recreation and activity programs earned an annual median salary of $26,350 in 2019. Employment growth for recreation workers is expected to increase by 8%, which is faster than the average, according to the BLS.
Human development programs are available at both the master's and doctoral levels. Through a master's program, you can prepare to enter fields like substance abuse treatment, gerontology, youth and child services, family services and recreational services. You can learn research methods and administration techniques, as well as how development applies to language, literacy and cognitive skills. The completion of an internship, final presentation or portfolio may be required. Doctoral programs typically allow you to focus on independent study and research in a specific field of your choosing. This research and study typically culminates in a dissertation, which must be completed for graduation of the program.
Students interested in the physical, interpersonal and physiological development of humans may be interested in seeking an associate's or bachelor's degree in human development. These degree programs can prepare students for employment in social services or community recreational work, as well as related graduate degree programs.