Degree considerations for students in human development and family science

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 human development and family science-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.

Human Development and Family Science, BS

The 124 credit B.S. degree program in human development and family science provides students with a broad foundation covering a range of issues focusing on the healthy development of children and families. It is an interdisciplinary program that draws from the areas of psychology, sociology, and education. It focuses on children’s, youth, and families’ well-being in the context of everyday life. Specifically, Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) concentrates on individuals’ social, emotional, and behavioral development in “real world” settings (e.g., families, schools, work, and hospitals) within the United States and internationally. HDFS graduates are prepared to pursue careers working with children and families in a variety of areas including education, social service, health services, counseling programs, child and youth programs, schools, parent and family services. HDFS provides numerous opportunities for diverse career paths and advanced degree options and is one of the most popular majors for students interested in a pre-med or pre-health major.

HDFS students select one of three specializations: Child Life Specialist, Early Child Development, Youth & Family Development. Students can pursue an additional specialization of a 4 + 1 program. In addition, HDFS students have the flexibility to combine add minors and even double major. Each track prepares students to work in specific settings.

Early Child Development – students in the Early Childhood Track are active observers who engage in the diverse and rich environment that serves children and families in the SU community and Syracuse at large. Attention is devoted to helping the student bridge the theoretical foundations of growth and development to the practical knowledge of the early childhood education environment.

Child Life Specialist – focuses on understanding children and youth in healthcare settings. Courses in this concentration range from learning how children cope with illness and death, to the role of play in facilitating children’s treatment and recovery. It prepares students to help children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events. Providing emotional support for families, Child Life Specialists encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenges, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization.

Early Child Development — addresses the development of children in the early years. Students in this concentration may take courses ranging from infancy, language development, and approaches to early childhood education.

Youth and Family Development – examines family systems as well as the growth and development of school age children to emerging adults. Courses in this concentration focus on the transition to adulthood, parenting, intimate relations, and work-family dynamics. It prepares students to pursue post-graduate work in numerous roles, including: clinical psychologist, child guidance counselor, social worker, marriage and family therapist, family lawyer, family mediator, child advocate and a variety of ancillary health care service roles.

Early Childhood Education (4+1) – students can pursue careers as early child educators in school settings. After completing an undergraduate degree in CFS in 4 years, students have the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in early childhood special education (ECSE) one year after completing an undergraduate degree in HDFS. Students enrolled in this degree program receive a 30 percent reduction for their one year of graduate tuition.

With the appropriate choice of required and elective courses, upon graduation, students will be eligible to pursue required clinical requirements necessary for Child Life Specialist (CLS) Certification, and/or eligible to apply for the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, and/or Provisional Certification in Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE).

Child Life Specialist (CLS)
Individuals who encounter hospitalization, illness and trauma benefit from services that integrate knowledge of child and family development. Coursework in the Child Life Specialist Track provides students with an education that facilitates skills and abilities designed to meet the psychosocial needs of children and families in medical settings. While the HDFS curriculum aligns with the Child Life Council’s recommendations for academic preparation of future Child Life Specialists, students who are interested in working in healthcare can also select this area of study.

Child Development Associate (CDA)
The Child and Family Studies Degree, with a focus in Child Development, will prepare graduates to apply for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential upon graduation or after beginning a career in early childhood care and education. The CDA is designed for those individuals who are working with young children in all settings. The focus is on working with children who are preschool ages 3 to 5. The Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) is a nationally recognized entry level credential in the field of Early Childhood Education. It is issued by the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C.

Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE)
Family life education is an organized effort to provide family members with information, skills, experiences, or resources intended to strengthen, improve or enrich their family experience. The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) sponsors the only program to certify family life educators (CFLE). The Human Development and Family Science program at Syracuse University has been pre-approved by NCFR so that students who successfully complete the required coursework and internship/practicum will be eligible to apply for Provisional Certification upon graduation.

What type of careers can I pursue with this degree?
Human Development and Family Science (formerly Child and Family Studies) graduates pursue careers in early education and intervention programs, social service and mental health agencies, health care settings, the juvenile justice system, counseling centers, youth programs, schools and parent and family services. Many students pursue post baccalaureate degrees in social work, psychology, medicine, family law, counseling, marriage and family therapy, health care, and education, as well as child and family studies. Entry level positions are readily available for Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) undergraduates with BS degree in Child and Family Studies.

What kind of credentials can I pursue?

  • Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS): Work with children and families, primarily in health care settings.
  • Family Life Educator Provisional Certification (CFLE): Work with families to strengthen family experiences.
  • Child Development Associate Credential (CDA): Work with pre-schoolers in early childhood care and education settings.
  • Teaching Certificate: Earn NYSED certification as an early childhood educator through our 4+1 combined bachelor’s/master’s program.

Can I have a minor or complete a dual or double major?
Yes. You can pursue a minor or several minors, or even double major (e.g., sociology, English, communications, psychology, etc.), in addition to your concentration. With careful and early planning, most minors and double majors can fit into the undergraduate curriculum in four years.

Can I use this program as a pre-health or pre-law major?
Yes. CFS is a popular major for students interested in pre-med/health and pre-law. Many of our students plan for graduate education in health professions (i.e., medicine, nursing, physician assistance, pharmacy, or dentistry) and law (i.e. family law, elder law, child advocacy). To qualify, students looking toward medical school must meet with the Health Professions Advisory Committee. Our students are able to receive advising assistance from the Health Profession Advising and Pre-Law Advising Services available at SU.

What kind of classes would I be taking?
You will take liberal arts and elective courses, as well as CFS program requirements and specialty track concentration coursework with internationally recognized faculty. You may choose a specialization track: Child Life Specialist, Early Child Development, Youth and Family Development or Early Childhood Education (4+1). Program requirement courses focus on child and youth development (i.e., infancy, play, interpersonal competence, human sexuality) and family development (i.e., parenting, marriage, and domestic violence).

Can I study abroad?
Yes. You can take advantage of many student abroad opportunities with over 100 SU programs in 60 countries. Information on study abroad is available at suabroad.syr.edu.

What sorts of graduate programs do students pursue after graduation?
Students who complete the BS degree in Child and Family Studies are prepared for admission to graduate programs in child and family studies, education, medical school, law school, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, psychology, clinical and applied psychology, early childhood education, elementary education, inclusive/special education, social work, marriage and family therapy, child studies, family studies, and other related fields.

What types of hands-on experiences and research do students get involved in?
HDFS students not only learn in the classroom, they also get firsthand experience in the community. Opportunities include a 180-hour community internship requirement and a variety of formal and informal research opportunities within the department and with other research centers. Students can also participate in numerous engagement and leadership opportunities. The Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School, a professionally run inclusive preschool located on campus, also provides exciting opportunities for research, teacher training, and community service.

Certified Child Life Specialist

Careers

Child Life Specialist in Children’s Hospitals, Medical Centers, Pediatric Clinics, Children’s Hospitals, Advocacy Centers, Dental Clinics, Hospice and Palliative Care Programs, Diagnosis-Specific Subspecialty Services, Private Practice, Therapeutic and Specialized Camps, Rehabilitation Service Agencies, Bereavement Programs, Early Intervention, Mental Health Agencies, School Settings Early Childhood Settings, Nonprofit Community Agencies, Funeral Homes, Legal Systems, Parent Education Programs, Research and Academia, Policy and Legislation Development.

Credential/Certifications

Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS): Credential issued by the Child Life Council

Requirements
  1. Minimum of a Bachelors Degree
  2. Required coursework designated by the Child Life Council
  3. Completion of a Child Life Clinical Internship after graduation that meets the Child Life Council’s Clinical Internship Standards
  4. Completion and passing of the Child Life Council’s Professional Certification Exam

Certified Family Life Educator

Careers

Family Life Educator in Community-based social services, Youth development programs, Teen pregnancy services, Adult day care, Welfare assistance, Faith-based organizations, Corporate settings, Family financial counseling and planning agencies, Government and public and family policy analysis, Child welfare and advocacy program, Cooperative extension specialist, Military family support services, Family life education, Sexuality education, Parenting education, Marriage and family enrichment programs, Curriculum development, Community education, Family intervention, Individual and family therapy support services, Crisis and hotline services, Abuse protection services, Residential treatment programs

Credentials/Certifications

Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE Certificate): Certification issued by the National Council on Family Relations

Requirements
  1. Required coursework designated by the National Council on Family Relations
  2. Completion of internship/practicum to be eligible to apply for Provisional Certification upon graduation
  3. Completion of portfolio for submission to NCFR to obtain Provisional Certification upon graduation
  4. Complete required work experience related to family Life education within 5 years of graduation to get Full certification

Child Development Associate (CDA)

Careers

Head teacher or assistant director in Early Childhood settings including preschool, full day child care centers, family child care, and afterschool programs.

Credentials/Certifications

Child Development Associate (CDA Credential): Credential issued by the Council for Professional Recognition
Note: This CDA credential, in addition to their CFS degree, would make students a more desirable candidate for hire in a preschool or Early Childhood Center or setting with higher salaries and career advancement opportunities.

Requirements
  1. Required coursework in CFS in child growth and development designated by the Council for Professional Recognition in their competency standards
  2. Application of CDA credential upon graduation or while in college with our current course offerings
  3. Preparation of CDA Professional Portfolio including completion of internship/practicum/work experience
  4. Verification visit with a Professional Development specialist and Passing CDA exam

4+1 Program

Careers

Early childhood educator, teachers in public school settings, private school settings in early childhood and elementary schools

Credentials/Certifications

Teaching Certificate: Certified as Early Childhood Educator by New York State Department of Education

Requirements
  1. Completing an undergraduate degree in CFS in 4 years in child development specialization.
  2. Complete required coursework beyond those listed for the major.
  3. Maintain grades averaging no less than a B- with no grade below a C for certain courses.
  4. Complete a master’s degree in early childhood special education in 1 year with a 30% tuition reduction and Passing Teaching Certificate exam
Human Development & Family Science accepts transfers into the Department on a rolling basis.

Applicants outside of the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics who are making satisfactory progress and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or above will be admitted to the Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS). Applicants inside the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics who are making satisfactory progress and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or above will be admitted to the Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS).

Students must have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours at Syracuse University.

If you are a student seeking to declare as a Human Development and Family Science major but are not enrolled in Syracuse University, please contact Falk Admissions at fotero@syr.edu.

If you are a current Syracuse University Student and wish to transfer into the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) program, please contact Arlene Johnston at 315-443-1715 or at acjohnst@syr.edu.

Interested in transferring, let us know!

Learn more about this program

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.

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Human Development and Family Science, MA

The master’s degree (M.A.) in human development and family science is designed to meet the goals of individuals who seek to work in applied settings (such as service agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)) in which a broad background in human development and family science, administrative skills, and an appreciation for increasingly diverse client communities are important. The hallmark of our M.A. is that it offers broad training in the theory and methodology of lifespan human development and family science, training in skills critical for working in administrative or other roles in service delivery agencies, a specialized focus on topics offered through elective coursework, and the opportunity to work in an applied setting with special populations that represent growing sectors of our communities both in national and international settings.

The program requires the completion of 30 credits of coursework including a 3-credit hour project experience. Students may choose to focus their studies either on a specific focus in the issues faced by immigrant and refugee children and families or on community and youth development. All students must complete the core course requirements. Depending on their interests, students can use elective coursework to focus their studies on specific areas of human development (e.g., early childhood education, youth development, gerontology, children and families in medical settings), on the development of expertise in particular skills, or in specific areas or populations of the global community. Finally, in this students are required to complete a project either in a local context or an international (see the Graduate Manual for details).

The M.A. program prepares students to work directly with children, youth, and families in various educational, familial, or community settings in both regional and international settings. Courses and training emphasize multicultural perspectives in development and family relationships as well as diverse research methodologies and scholarship.

The internal admissions form is meant for use by graduate students who are currently enrolled at Syracuse University or received a graduate degree from Syracuse University within the past 12 months.

This includes graduate students:

  • who are currently enrolled or have completed a degree from another program within Syracuse University and would like to do a MA/MS/PhD degree in HDFS
  • who have completed a MS in HDFS and wish to be admitted to the PhD program in HDFS
  • who are currently enrolled in the MA/MS program in HDFS at Syracuse University but would like to enroll in the PhD program
  • Graduate students who are in one of the above mentioned categories should complete the Graduate Enrollment Internal Admission Application form.

Along with obtaining the necessary signatures, graduate students must also:

  • provide all official degree transcript(s),*
  • provide a statement of research interests,
  • provide three letters of recommendation (external or internal)*
  • complete and return forms and required documents by January 15th to Kathy Rainone (kbrainon@syr.edu), 144 White Hall.

*Graduate students who have recommendations on file in the HDFS department from having applied for and/or obtained a HDFS degree need only two letters of recommendations from HDFS faculty who are familiar with their work. If official transcripts are on file in the HDFS department, they need not be resubmitted.

Graduate students who received a graduate degree from Syracuse University prior to 12 months or are not currently pursuing a graduate degree at Syracuse University should not use the Graduate Enrollment Internal Admission Application form but should apply online.

Learn more about this program

Human Development and Family Science, MS

The Master of Science degree (M.S.) in human development and family science is a 30-credit degree program that aims to promote an understanding of human development across the lifespan. 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.

All M.S. students must complete the core course and elective course requirements. Courses and training emphasize multicultural perspectives in child and family relationships and diverse research methodologies and scholarship. Elective coursework may be selected from additional CFS courses and other University departments such as anthropology, psychology, education, sociology, gerontology, social science, nutrition, special education, or women’s studies.

In addition to course work, the M.S. degree requires the completion of a master’s thesis (see graduate manual for details). M.S. programs prepare students to pursue careers in research, health services, and community agencies. Students may further their educational goals by applying to enroll in the doctoral program in the department. All students must file a tentative program of study in their second semester. Students transferring courses from another institution must file a program of study prior to completing 12 credits at Syracuse University.

The internal admissions form is meant for use by graduate students who are currently enrolled at Syracuse University or received a graduate degree from Syracuse University within the past 12 months.

This includes graduate students:

  • who are currently enrolled or have completed a degree from another program within Syracuse University and would like to do a MA/MS/PhD degree in HDFS
  • who have completed a MS in HDFS and wish to be admitted to the PhD program in HDFS
  • who are currently enrolled in the MA/MS program in HDFS at Syracuse University but would like to enroll in the PhD program
  • Graduate students who are in one of the above mentioned categories should complete the Graduate Enrollment Internal Admission Application form.

Along with obtaining the necessary signatures, graduate students must also:

  • provide all official degree transcript(s),*
  • provide a statement of research interests,
  • provide three letters of recommendation (external or internal)*
  • complete and return forms and required documents by January 15th to Kathy Rainone (kbrainon@syr.edu), 144 White Hall.

*Graduate students who have recommendations on file in the HDFS department from having applied for and/or obtained a HDFS degree need only two letters of recommendations from HDFS faculty who are familiar with their work. If official transcripts are on file in the HDFS department, they need not be resubmitted.

Graduate students who received a graduate degree from Syracuse University prior to 12 months or are not currently pursuing a graduate degree at Syracuse University should not use the Graduate Enrollment Internal Admission Application form but should apply online.

Learn more about this program

Human Development and Family Science, PhD

The Ph.D. program consists of 72 credits, including completion of a dissertation. 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 human development and family 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 internal admissions form is meant for use by graduate students who are currently enrolled at Syracuse University or received a graduate degree from Syracuse University within the past 12 months.

This includes graduate students:

  • who are currently enrolled or have completed a degree from another program within Syracuse University and would like to do a MA/MS/PhD degree in HDFS
  • who have completed a MS in HDFS and wish to be admitted to the PhD program in HDFS
  • who are currently enrolled in the MA/MS program in HDFS at Syracuse University but would like to enroll in the PhD program
  • Graduate students who are in one of the above mentioned categories should complete the Graduate Enrollment Internal Admission Application form.

Along with obtaining the necessary signatures, graduate students must also:

  • provide all official degree transcript(s),*
  • provide a statement of research interests,
  • provide three letters of recommendation (external or internal)*
  • complete and return forms and required documents by January 15th to Kathy Rainone (kbrainon@syr.edu), 144 White Hall.

*Graduate students who have recommendations on file in the HDFS department from having applied for and/or obtained a HDFS degree need only two letters of recommendations from HDFS faculty who are familiar with their work. If official transcripts are on file in the HDFS department, they need not be resubmitted.

Graduate students who received a graduate degree from Syracuse University prior to 12 months or are not currently pursuing a graduate degree at Syracuse University should not use the Graduate Enrollment Internal Admission Application form but should apply online.

Learn more about this program

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 HDFS Majors and Non-Majors.

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Human Development and Family Science Minor

The human development and family science 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-HDFS Majors.

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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 HDFS, as well as to those in other social sciences, health sciences and education. This minor is open to all HDFS Majors and Non-Majors.

Learn more about this program