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
HDFS faculty summer 2017
Twilight view of the Davis Student Center
HDFS student at Commencement
HDFS student smiling
Lafayette statue in the moonlight

Why are people excited about UVM's Human Development and Family Studies Program?

"I couldn't have chosen a greater program and a better institution that fits me so perfectly. This is a program that's going to help you learn so much about yourself and who you can become, and just give you an amazing perspective of the world and the work that you can do."  Sophie Robledo '18

Students in the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program 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 understanding of human development and how this understanding 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 in HDFS, becoming an HDFS minor, or choosing to major in HDFS.

Minor in HDFS

Interested in an HDFS minor? A minimum of 18 credit hours is required. For more information, please see the required courses.

Major in HDFS

Our interdisciplinary perspective makes HDFS a distinctive major. You will take courses in the behavioral and social sciences, the humanities, physical and biological sciences, and multi-cultural education.

These liberal studies provide you with the vital knowledge and perspectives you need to fully appreciate the complex interaction of individual psychology and biology, social relationships, families, communities, societies and cultures.

Student Support

A defining element of the HDFS program is the great importance we place on supporting our students as they move into and through their college years at UVM. Students have many decisions to make during their college years that pertain to both their personal and professional development, and our faculty work very hard to help them in both areas of their lives.

Human Development Coursework

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

For more information about the courses we offer, please see Major Requirements.

Field Work in Vermont and Beyond

By your senior year, you are well prepared to engage in an internship in one of a variety of public and private agencies. With a semester-long commitment of about 15 hours a week, you will serve in agencies such as family centers, battered-women's shelters, centers for abused and neglected children, youth programs, legislative offices, programs for elders, community mental health programs, and public and private schools.

One of the important features of this required internship is that you may choose to complete it during the summer in a location outside of Vermont. Some students have completed internships in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., upstate New York, among other locations.

Global Study

Interested in travel abroad while pursuing your degree? Visit our global study page to explore opportunities in countries like, England, Finland, France, Hawai'i, Portugal (the Azores) and more. UVM's Office of International Education provides a full range of support services to assist you.

After Your Degree

Our graduates continue their personal and professional development along a variety of paths (see CAREERS and WHERE ALUMNI WORK in the green column). But whatever their professional life brings them, our graduates report back to us that their HDFS major prepared them well for the work of supporting human development among diverse individuals and across a variety of developmental and social contexts.

Major Requirements

Overview & Requirements

Sample 4-Year Plan

Fall Credits Spring Credits
HDFS 001: Human Development and Family Studies for Majors 4 HDFS 060: Family Context of Development 3
HDFS 005: Human Development 3 HDFS 065: Human Relationships and Sexuality 3
ENGS 001: Written Expression 3 SOC 001: SU: Intro to Sociology 3
PSYS 001: Intro to Psychological Science 3 QR: Quantitative Reasoning Course 3
Elective (Minor) 3 SPCH 011: Effective Speaking 3
Learning Community Course (LC) 1 - 3    
Semester Total: 17 - 19 Semester Total: 15
Fall Credits Spring Credits
HDFS 141: D1: Interrogating White Identity 3 HDFS 189: Theories of Human Development 3
HDFS 161: Social Context of Development 3 HDFS 101: The Helping Relationship 3
ANTH 021: D2: Intro to Cultural Anthropology 3 Humanities Course 3
PSYS 053: Psychological Research Methods 3 NFS 043: Fundamentals of Nutrition 3
Elective (Minor) 3 Elective (Minor) 3
Semester Total: 15 Semester Total: 15
Fall Credits Spring Credits
HDFS: Upper Level Course 3 HDFS: Upper Level Course 3
BIOL 003: Human Biology 3 Humanities Course 3
D1: Race and Racism Course 3 Electives (Minor) 9
Elective (Minor) 6    
Semester Total: 15 Semester Total: 15
Fall Credits Spring Credits
HDFS: Upper Level Course 3 HDFS 290: Field Experience 6
Science Elective 3 Elective (Minor) 9
Elective (Minor) 9    
Semester Total: 15 Semester Total: 15


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

Hallmarks of our unique program include:

  • Interdisciplinary coursework
  • Interactive and experiential learning in diverse settings
  • Personalized advising and support from faculty
  • International study options
  • Numerous career paths and graduate study possibilities

Apply Now 

Questions? / 802-656-3468

Graduate employment rate


of CESS 2017 graduates were employed or continuing their education within six months of graduating.


  • 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

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