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Developmental and Family Science

The Developmental and Family Science curriculum allows students to take an interdisciplinary approach to studying families and human development across the lifespan. Students receive a broad education in human development and family studies, with many opportunities for specialization, including optional concentrations in child development or family and community health. The major culminates in a capstone experience, designed by the student from among three choices:  an internship, a research thesis, or a study abroad experience. This degree will prepare you to work with families in the contexts of schools and communities or for you to pursue an advanced academic degree.

Experiential Learning

Students in Developmental and Family Science have a variety of options for hands on experiences. You could work with one of our faculty in their research lab, intern in a community organization, or participate in our study abroad program focused on themes relating to human development and family studies.
Students design a capstone experience linked to their interests from among these three choices:

  • The Thesis Option involves completing a substantial research project under the mentorship of an HDFS faculty member. A total of six credits, over two semesters, are devoted to this project.
  • In the Internship Option, students complete a 6-credit internship (fall, spring, or summer) in a relevant organization. Internship placements are arranged through a preparatory class (HDFS 45400).
  • The Study Abroad Option involves completion of a study abroad experience relevant to HDFS. Experiences of at least 6 credits complete the requirement. Experiences of fewer than 6 credits will require an additional course with an international focus. The HDFS Department offers a study abroad experience each May, and many other relevant experiences are also available to Purdue students.

Detailed requirements for the capstone experience can be found below.

Capstone Experience: Mentored Research Requirements

Potential Career Options

Receiving a degree in Developmental and Family Studies provides opportunities to impact the lives of children, individuals and families. With a degree in this profession you will be ready to continue your studies in graduate school in a related field, or for beginning a career such as child welfare, counseling, education, social work, and public administration.

Possible careers upon completion of a degree in Developmental and Family Studies include:

  • Adoption agency counselor
  • Activity director
  • Caseworker
  • Childcare coordinator
  • Crisis intervention worker
  • Early childhood policy advocate
  • Extension educator
  • Emergency relief worker
  • Family support worker
  • Foster care caseworker
  • Hospice worker
  • Housing service coordinator
  • International relief worker
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Parent educator
  • Senior advocate
  • Social caseworker
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Youth development specialist

Potential Graduate School Options

  • Child Development 
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Educational Counseling
  • Human Development & Family Studies 
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Public Health
  • Social Work 
  • Youth Development & Agricultural Education

Sample Degree Requirements & Plan of Study