University of Vermont

2012-2013 Catalogue

Human Development and Family Studies (Bachelor of Science)


The Human Development and Family Studies program examines the ways people grow and develop, form relationships and families, and learn to cope with the common and uncommon events of life, all while attending to an ecological perspective. Students learn basic and applied concepts of human development and acquire skills in working with individuals and families of different ages and backgrounds in a variety of settings. Field experience is required of all students.

Human Development and Family Studies is also available as a major concentration for students in the Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education, and Physical Education licensure programs, and as a minor available to students across the university.

Specific Requirements

Students in the Human Development and Family Studies program complete a total of 120 credits which include General Education requirements in diversity, behavioral and social sciences, communication skills, humanities, physical and biological sciences and research methods. They also enroll in a sequence of professional course requirements designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of individual and family development across the life span and in diverse socio-cultural contexts. These courses are arranged in three blocks: introductory, intermediate, and advanced.

The introductory block includes four core courses in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). The first, "Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies and Academic Service-Learning" (HDFS 001), provides majors with an introduction to the discipline and practice of HDFS, with special emphasis on preparing students for more advanced course work and professional practice. The other three courses in the introductory block introduce students to core topics in the field, including individual development across the life span: "Human Development" (HDFS 005), "Family Context of Development" (HDFS 060), and "Human Relationships and Sexuality" (HDFS 065). Students are also introduced to typical individual-level experiences, changes and challenges at different points in the life course and to various factors, such as gender, race and social class that influence individual development. Introductory courses consider how questions are pursued from a human development perspective, how they relate to everyday life settings, how knowledge in the discipline is constructed, and the types of skills necessary to both acquire and use this knowledge.

The intermediate block builds upon the introductory block through the next set of four professional course requirements. In HDFS 161, students are offered a deeper introduction to and opportunity to critically analyze the major social institutions and cultural contexts that shape human development. HDFS 141 focuses in depth on white identity and the context of white privilege. The remaining two courses in this intermediate block introduce students to major development theories relied upon to help us understand individual development in context (HDFS 189) and to the HDFS profession through the study and practice of essential helping relationship skills (HDFS 101). Both courses also provide students the opportunity to apply developmental theories to practice.

The advanced block consists of a series of advanced seminars and a six-credit field experience. All majors take at least three advanced seminar courses selected in consultation with an advisor. The field experience is the final professional requirement and serves as a capstone senior level experience. Taken for a minimum of six credits and typically completed over the course of one semester, students engage in direct field work for a minimum of 12 hours per week at the same time completing the related academic work that focuses on critical reflection from human development and ecological perspectives. Students choose a placement from a variety of local agencies. Field placement sites have included legal aid, the court system, battered women’s shelters, centers for abused and neglected children, city and state government agencies, public and private schools, group homes, rehabilitation centers, local business and industry, childcare settings, hospitals, senior-citizen centers, and other human service agencies and social justice organizations.

A possible curriculum for the Human Development and Family Studies program:


Course Credits
Fall Spring
HDFS 001 - Intro to HDFS & Academic Services Learning 3
HDFS 005 - Human Development 3
General Education Courses 3 3
Electives 3 3
Diversity Courses 3 3
HDFS 060 - Family Context of Development 3
HDFS 065 - Human Relationships & Sexuality 3
Total 15 15
Sophomore Year
Course Credits
Fall Spring
HDFS 141 - Interrogating White Identities 3
HDFS 161 - Social Context of Development 3
General Education Courses 6 6
Electives 3 3
HDFS 101 - The Helping Relationship 3
HDFS 189 - Theories of Human Development 3
Total 15 15
Junior Year
Course Credits
Fall Spring
HDFS Adv Seminars 3 3
General Education Courses 9 9
Electives 3 3
Total 15 15
Senior Year
Course Credits
Fall Spring
HDFS Adv Seminar 3
Electives 12 9
HDFS 296 - Field Experience 6
Total 15 15



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