Human Development & Family Studies

Students in our program have typically been involved throughout their high school years in activities that help people live healthier, more productive and satisfying lives.

The Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program at UVM will help prepare you for a broad range of professional careers that improve the lives of people across the entire lifespan. You will explore the ways people grow and develop, form relationships and families, and cope with the common events of life. In this exploration, program faculty present an ecological perspective, which means we look at the complex interaction of individual psychology and biology, social relationships, families, communities, societies, and cultures.

Faculty place great importance on getting you launched, first into the world of college life and study. Our unique introductory first-year service learning course for majors places students in a small class with a faculty mentor who introduces them to the field of human development and the skills necessary for success in college and beyond. The service learning component of the course provides you the opportunity to work in a social-service setting and to then reflect, with other students, on the nature and influence of the experience.

Human Development and Family Studies is a distinctive, interdisciplinary major with emphasis on a broad, liberal education. You will take courses in the behavioral and social sciences, literature and the arts, physical and biological sciences, and communication. These liberal studies will provide you with vital frameworks needed for more specialized focus on human development issues across the lifespan.

In the study of human development our students follow two central paths. The first considers how individuals develop from infancy through old age. The second examines the contexts in which they develop, including interpersonal relationships, families and communities, gender and sexual identities, and social institutions.

During the first two years in the program, you will enroll in Life-Span Human Development, Family Context of Development, Social Context of Development, and Human Relationships and Sexuality.

In the third year, you will take three advanced seminars drawn from a variety of topics, including advanced child development, adolescence and youth, adult development, parenting, cross-cultural development and sexuality and gender.

In the fourth year, you will take two required advanced seminars, The Family Ecosystem and Theories of Human Development. You will also have a field placement experience that builds on course work previously taken and serves as the capstone experience in the program. The choice of placement reflects each student's personal and career interests. Our students have had field experiences in family centers, affirmative action agencies, family court, battered- women's shelters, centers for abused and neglected children, city and state agencies, hospitals, and senior- citizens' centers, among many others.