Academic Programs

Degree considerations for students in child and family studies

The Falk College’s Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) at Syracuse University prepares students to work in specific settings, providing a solid foundation of children and families across the life span through a bachelor of science degree. Students will learn about the social, emotional, and physical development of children while studying relationships within families and in other social contexts, such as schools, workplaces and faith communities.

When considering a career path in child and family studies-related fields, the following information is helpful:

  • A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for entry-level positions.
  • Advanced degrees are essential for clinical and therapeutic counseling positions, education/special education.
  • A master’s degree or Ph.D. is often needed for administrative and supervisory positions.
  • A Ph.D. is required for college teaching and advanced research positions, as well as education-focused careers (i.e., teacher, speech pathologist).
  • Additional or specialized training may qualify you for higher paying, more responsible positions.


Child and Family Studies, BS

The 124 credit B.S. degree program in child and family studies provides students with a broad foundation covering a range of issues focusing on the healthy development of children and families. In addition to liberal arts courses, students are expected to complete 15 credits of Program Requirements and 18-24 credits in a specialty track (decided on in the second semester of the sophomore year). Each track prepares students to work in specific settings.

Tracks of Specialization
Transferring Into HDFS


Inclusive Early Childhood Special Education, BS

This B.S. degree program is a dual program between the School of Education and the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics – with the School of Education as the home school. This program provides you with the professional background and a solid core of liberal arts distribution and concentration coursework. A cornerstone of the program is the extensive and varied series of field experiences it offers, coordinating coursework with fieldwork in the schools as early as the first year of study. Many schools and childcare centers in the Syracuse area are at the forefront of inclusive education. Through our close partnerships with local schools and early childhood centers that welcome all students, and with our wide network of urban, suburban, and rural school affiliations, we provide a broad range of opportunities for getting the most out of field experiences.


Child and Family Studies, MA

The master’s degree in child and family studies promotes an understanding of children, families, and the ways to facilitate their development. With an emphasis on the importance of social-cultural context, students gain broad knowledge of the study of childhood and family systems across various cultural and societal contexts throughout the lifespan. The program requires completion of 30 credits and active research focusing on child development, family studies, or early childhood education. HDFS operates the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School, which serves children of diverse backgrounds and abilities between the ages of 2 and 5. Master’s candidates work as assistant teachers in the program, which offers a strong inclusive component. The laboratory school is accredited by The National Association for the Education of Young Children. Students choosing the MA option are required to complete a project and those opting for the MS will complete a thesis. Many students work closely with HDFS faculty on various research projects and gain valuable experience for conducting and disseminating their research studies.

Internal Admissions Process


Child and Family Studies, MS

The M.S. program prepares students to pursue a doctoral degree and ultimately, a career in higher education providing relevant education and research training. The M.A. program prepares students to work directly with children and families in various educational, familial, or community settings. Courses and training emphasize multicultural perspectives in child and family relationships and diverse research methodologies and scholarship. The degree programs are flexible, allowing for either full or part-time study. In addition, students may tailor their studies to fit their personal and career interests by choosing elective supportive coursework areas including education, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, social work, or public administration. Students may complete coursework that prepares them to apply for certification as a Family Life Educator, as administered by the National Council on Family Relations.

Internal Admissions Process


Child and Family Studies, PhD

The doctoral (PhD) program provides in-depth studies of familial, societal, and cultural factors that shape child development and family relationships. A primary focus is on scientific inquiry and research methodology employed in disciplines such as education, psychology, social sciences, and women’s studies. It trains professionals for careers in academia, research, and child and family human service agencies. Courses and training emphasize multicultural perspectives in child and family relationships and diverse research methodologies and scholarship. In addition, doctoral students have the opportunity to obtain university teaching instruction and experience through participation in Syracuse University’s Future Professorate Program. The doctoral program is flexible, allowing for either full or part-time study. In addition, students may tailor their studies to fit their personal and career interests by choosing elective supportive coursework areas including education, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, social work, or public administration. Students may complete coursework that prepares them to apply for certification as a Family Life Educator, as administered by the National Council on Family Relations.

Internal Admissions Process


Child and Family Policy Studies Minor

The Child and Family Policy Studies Minor is an interdisciplinary minor that gives students and opportunity to study public policy and child and family issues. This minor provides useful skills and experiences for students who go on to pursue careers in public policies and government programming and who want to apply their understanding of child and family development in a variety of policy related sectors. This minor is open to all CFS Majors and Non-Majors.


Child and Family Studies Minor

The Child and Family Studies Minor provides students with a broad foundation covering a range of issues focusing on the healthy development of children and families. This minor provides knowledge and skills that can be applied to real world settings across different settings such as families, schools, work places, hospitals within the United States and internationally. This minor is open to Non-CFS Majors.


Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies Minor

The purpose of this minor is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of mindfulness and contemplative study and practice, and opportunities to cultivate these skills in their courses and apply them in their communities. This minor would be of interest to students in the Child Life Specialist track in CFS, as well as to those in other social sciences, health sciences and education. This minor is open to all CFS Majors and Non-Majors.