Be purposeful

Human Development and Family Studies student writing at a desk
Kayaking on Lake Champlain
Human Development and Family Studies student smiling
Campus with fall foliage
Twilight view of the Davis Student Center
HDFS student at Commencement
HDFS student smiling
Lafayette statue in the moonlight

"I met incredible faculty, staff and students who helped shaped me and my future career endeavors. I felt so at home in this community and know that these people will be in my corner for years to come."  -Taylor Mullen '22

Human Development and Family Science students explore the ways people grow and develop, form relationships and families, and cope with the common events of life.

Are you interested in a career in the helping professions? Do you want to develop a deep interdisciplinary understanding of human development and how this informs professional practice? Are you interested in studying what it means to be a skilled and ethical professional practitioner? If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, consider taking a course or two, and choosing to pursue the major or minor.


Our mission is to prepare knowledgeable, skilled, critically conscious, and ethical human services professionals and citizens. The Human Development and Family Science program emphasizes information literacy, critical reflection, and community-engaged learning experiences rooted in social justice and strengths-based frameworks of human development and family science. Our graduates are ready to pursue an advanced degree or professional work that promotes positive development and healthy relationships to empower individuals, families, and communities to thrive while interrupting systems of privilege and oppression.

HDFS Major

Our interdisciplinary perspective is a distinctive aspect of the program. Students take courses in the behavioral and social sciences, the humanities, physical and biological sciences, and multi-cultural education. These liberal studies provide vital knowledge and perspectives needed to fully appreciate the complex interaction of individual psychology and biology, social relationships, families, communities, societies and cultures. For more information, please see Major Requirements.

HDFS Minor

A minimum of 18 credit hours is required to complete the minor. Please visit the HDFS Minor webpage to see course requirements and other information.

Commitment to Support BIPOC Students and Working Toward Racial Justice

Read our Program Statement (PDF)

Information for Current Students

See helpful information and guidance for our current students.

Program Faculty

Student Support

A defining element of the program is the importance we place on supporting our students throughout their college years at UVM. Our faculty work hard to help students with their academic, professional, and personal decisions. 

The Amy Wise Scholarship Fund

Our students are welcome to apply for the Amy Wise Scholarship Fund consisting of three different grants. Note that the link to the application form is included in the fund description but this link will remain inactive until the annual call for applications is opened on or around April 15. Students have until May 15 to submit their application.


In some courses, we focus our attention on the study of individual development. In other courses, we examine the contexts in which individuals develop, such as personal relationships, families and communities, gender and sexual identities, and societal institutions. 

Field Work in Vermont and Beyond

By senior year, students are well prepared to engage in the required capstone two-semester internship course in one of a variety of public and private agencies. With a two semester-long commitment of about 6-8 hours a week during senior year, students learn through interning in agencies such as family centers, intimate partner violence organizations, centers for abused and neglected children, youth programs, legislative offices, programs for elders, community mental health programs, and public and private schools.

Global Study Abroad Opportunities

Interested in studying abroad to explore other cultures while pursuing your degree? Visit our CESS study abroad page to learn about opportunities in various countries around the world. In addition, UVM's Office of International Education provides other opportunities and a full range of support services to assist you.

After Your Degree: Related Career Information

Our graduates continue their personal and professional development along a variety of paths. But whatever their professional life brings them, our graduates report back to us that the program prepared them well for the work of supporting human development among diverse individuals and across a variety of developmental and social contexts. Common career paths and examples of places our alumni have worked are listed as part of the 4-Year Path to Career Success on this page (click on “CAREERS” and “WHERE ALUMNI WORK”). View additional information about HDF-related careers right out of undergraduate studies and careers requiring further education below:

Major Requirements

Overview & Requirements

Learning Outcomes (PDF)

Sample 4-Year Plan (open accordion to view)

First Year

HDF 1010 (001): Foundations of Human Development and Family Science for Majors3HDF 1600 (060): Family Context of Development3
HDF 1050 (005): Human Development3HDF 1650 (065): Human Relationships and Sexuality3
ENGS 1001 (001): Written Expression3SOC 1500 (001): SU: Intro to Sociology3
PSYS 1400 (001): Intro to Psychological Science3QR: Quantitative Reasoning Course3
Elective (Minor)3SPCH 1400 (011): Effective Speaking3
Learning Community Course (LC)1 - 3  
Semester Total:17 - 19Semester Total:15

Second Year

HDF 2410 (141): D1: Interrogating White Identity3HDF 2890 (189): Theories of Human Development3
HDF 2610 (161): Social Context of Development3HDF 2010 (101): The Helping Relationship3
ANTH 1100 (021): D2: Intro to Cultural Anthropology3Humanities Course3
PSYS 2002 (053): Psychological Research Methods3NFS 1043 (043): Fundamentals of Nutrition3
Elective (Minor)3Elective (Minor)3
Semester Total:15Semester Total:15

Third Year

HDF: Upper-Level Course3HDF: Upper-Level Course3
BIOL 1105 (003): Human Biology3Humanities Course3
D1: Race and Racism Course3Electives (Minor)9
Elective (Minor)6  
Semester Total:15Semester Total:15

Fourth Year

HDF 4991 (290) SL: Internship3HDF 4991 (290): SL: Internship3
Science Elective3HDF: Upper-Level Course3
Elective (Minor)9Elective (Minor)9
Semester Total:15Semester Total:15



Is UVM's Human Development and Family Science Program for you?

Hallmarks of our unique program include:

  • Interdisciplinary coursework
  • Interactive and experiential learning in diverse settings
  • Personalized advising, mentoring and support from faculty
  • Research and international study options
  • Numerous career pathways and graduate study possibilities

Apply Now 

HDFS Brochure (PDF)

Learn By Doing

Contact Us / 802-656-3468

Graduate employment rate



  • Human Services Professional
  • Residential Counselor for Treatment Programs
  • Family and Child Advocate
  • Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • Public Health
  • Graduate Study leading to careers in Counseling, Social Work, Education, Family Therapy, Family Law, Human Development, and Health Care

Where alumni work

  • Assistant Director of Student Life for Leadership and Civic Engagement Programs, University of Vermont
  • In-Home Therapy Clinician, Community Mental Health Center, Boston, MA
  • Graduate Student in Health Education, Maine
  • Chair of Board of Directors for the National IMPACT Conference on service and civic engagement
  • Program Manager, Vermont Department of Health
  • Peace Corps, Vanuatu

Related Information