Preparing graduates for careers in research and advanced graduate study in human growth and development across the lifespan in diverse social and cultural settings.

The Master of Science degree (M.S.) in human development and family science (HDFS) is a 30-credit degree program designed to meet the goals of individuals who seek to work in research settings or wish to pursue advanced graduate study. M.S. students gain a deep understanding of human development across the lifespan, family processes, and community-family interrelationships across various cultural and societal contexts. In addition, students acquire a strong background in research methodology and the skills necessary to evaluate and conduct research in the field. Our program provides the knowledge and tools to help our graduates be successful.

Why this degree makes a difference in society today…tomorrow…

Research professionals in the field of human development and family science employ their knowledge and training to conduct scientific research that promotes healthy development at every stage of the lifespan. M.S. graduates conduct studies on a wide range of subjects. Some examples include – factors influencing academic success in childhood and adolescence, intimate partner violence in teen dating relationships, coping with changes that occur in the later stages of life, social and cultural factors that influence developmental outcomes across the lifespan.

Sample Courses

Courses and training emphasize multicultural perspectives in child and family relationships, diverse research methodology and scholarship. 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 the use of diverse research methodologies. Elective coursework may be selected from the HDFS course catalog. Courses may also be selected from other University departments such as anthropology, psychology, education, sociology, gerontology, social science, nutrition, special education, or women’s studies.

  • Statistics
  • Research Methods
  • Child Development Theory and Application
  • Family Development Theory and Application
  • Child and Family in Cross-Cultural Perspectives
View all course requirements and electives

What Our Students Are Saying


Our Facilities

The Department of Human Development and Family Science is located on the first floor of the Falk Complex. The Complex includes both MacNaughton and White Halls, is located on the western portion of the Syracuse University campus. The renovated complex includes a centralized Falk Admissions center that offers prospective students the chance to see Falk College in action on a daily basis, and an expanded Student Services space conducive to providing programming that helps students be successful. In addition to administrative and academic program offices and classrooms, the Falk Complex also offers students dedicated study/collaborative space, computer labs and comforts like a café and student lounge.

The Bernice M. Wright (BMW) Child Development Laboratory School is located on Syracuse University’s South Campus, Falk College celebrated the grand reopening of the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Lab School on November 30, 2012, showcasing its recently renovated and expanded facilities. Bernice M. Wright embraces inclusion, celebrating cultural and developmental diversity and recognizing the similarities and differences that make the world an exciting place. Through collaboration with community-based service providers, the school enrolls children with varying developmental abilities, adding greatly to the overall classroom experience. The site serves as a teacher training facility and supports research in child development and early childhood education.


Study Abroad

Syracuse University students have access to one of the nation’s best-ranked study abroad programs in the nation. Human Development and Family Science students have opportunities to study in one of SU’s many centers around the world, including Santiago, Chile, and Strasbourg, France. For more information about study abroad at SU, visit suabroad.syr.edu.


Careers

The M.S. program prepares students for careers in research, health services, and community agencies. Students who complete a M.S. in Human Development and Family Science are trained for positions as administrators and supervisors at non-profit agencies, research centers, or educational agencies. Human development is a broad discipline that prepares students for a variety of lucrative and exciting career options.

Career options vary and can include:

  • Manager, Mental Health Program
  • Early Intervention Specialist
  • Research Analyst
  • Program Coordinator, Health and Human Services
  • Ph.D. or other advanced graduate training

Students may also further their educational goals by applying to enroll in the doctoral program in the department. A Ph.D. is required for college teaching and advanced research positions, as well as education-focused careers or senior research analysts. Students interested in these careers may want to consider pursuing a Ph.D.

Human Development and Family Studies, PhD


Requirements & Outcomes

Course Requirements

Substantive, Research Methodology, and Theory Requirements (15 credits)

HFS 621 – Statistical Concepts I (3 credits)
HFS 631 – Research Methods for Human Development and Family Science I (3 credits)
HFS 637 – Theories, Interpretations, and Applications in Child Development (3 credits)
HFS 648 – Family Theories: Interpretation and Application (3 credits)
HFS 667 – Child & Family in Cross Cultural Perspective (3 credits)

Elective Course Requirements (12 credits)

At least 12 credits of elective coursework must be selected from HDFS graduate courses or courses from related programs. Students must consult with their faculty advisor prior to selecting elective courses.

Master’s Thesis (3 credits)

M.S. students are required to complete a research thesis in either a local, national, or international context. The M.S. thesis requires students to demonstrate their abilities to conduct research with children, youth, and families in either regional or international settings. Students develop their research proposals in consultation with their faculty advisor. Prior to beginning to work on their M.S. theses, students are expected to present their thesis proposals to their M.S. thesis committees. Only after approval of their proposals can students begin work on their thesis. Upon completion of the research, an oral defense is scheduled (see the graduate manual for details). The thesis must meet the requirements specified by the department and the Graduate School.

Distribution of Credits

Core Requirements 15
Electives 12
Thesis 3
Total 30

Satisfactory Progress

To maintain good standing, all HDFS graduate students are required to:

  • Earn a B or better in all required courses.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, including courses taken outside the department (e.g., anthropology, education, psychology, sociology, etc.).

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze and evaluate theory and empirical research on children and families
  2. Explain human development and changes in individuals and families across the lifespan
  3. Explain and apply the roles of development and change in different cultural communities and contexts
  4. Apply knowledge about issues of child and family development in practice

Financial Support

Falk College offer a limited number of graduate assistantships and tuition scholarships. Graduate teaching or research assistantships for the academic year are awarded on a competitive basis based on applications received by February 1. Additional information regarding graduate financial aid can be found at Syracuse University’s Graduate Student Aid page.

Graduate teaching assistants are required to assist with undergraduate instruction and sometimes with graduate instruction. Teaching assistants at the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School are expected to work closely with preschool teachers at the laboratory school on various aspects of classroom instruction. Recipients of graduate assistantships receive a stipend in addition to tuition credits. Research assistantships may also be available from sponsoring faculty. Research assistants are required to assist faculty with research. Students receiving tuition scholarships only receive tuition credits and no stipend.


Getting Admitted

Students seeking admission to the Department of Human Development and Family Science must meet the general admissions requirements of the Graduate School. Although no single factor determines entry to the program, competitive applicants typically have a minimum of:

  1. GPA of 3.00 or higher (undergraduate and/or graduate work);
  2. GRE scores of 144 Quantitative, 153 Verbal (please note, the GRE exam must be taken within the last five years). For international students whose primary language is not English, TOEFL scores of 577 (paper test) or 100 for the internet based (IBT) test are desirable.

Part-time Study

The M.S. degree may be completed through full- or part-time study. Students must enroll in a minimum of nine credit hours for full-time status. Students enrolled in six credit hours or fewer are considered part-time. Students who are interested in an accelerated degree, may complete the required coursework and project during a single academic year (including summers).

Transfer Credits

Subject to departmental approval, a maximum of up to 6 credits of master’s level coursework (in Human Development and Family Science or related disciplines at Syracuse University or other universities) may be applied to the M.S. program. Courses in substantive areas of study within Human Development and Family Science or related disciplines are eligible to be considered. The final decision about the number of credits that can be transferred into the M.S. program is made by the graduate faculty. Student must have earned a B or better grade on courses that they would like to transfer. Students transferring courses from another institution must file a program of study prior to completing 12 credits at Syracuse University.

Are you a current Syracuse University graduate student interested in an HDFS degree?

For additional admissions information, visit the course catalog or contact the Office of Admissions at falk@syr.edu or 315.443.5555.

Apply Today!

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