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If you are interested in teaching and education, you can combine developmental courses with courses on educational theory, policy, and instructional practice. Below we have identified many courses that you can take to explore teaching and education careers and develop relevant skills. We have clustered them according to where they fit into your degree audit to help you with planning.

Relevant General education classes

Your Social & Behavioral Science classes can be particularly helpful as you explore careers. Be sure to consider the 3-6-9 option (gen-ed).

* Be sure to check the supporting courses list (supporting-courses) for Gen Eds that may be particularly relevant to HDFS students. Just remember, you can count these courses as either a gen ed or a supporting course, but they do not double count.

Examples of GS courses include, but are not limited to:

AEE 201 (GS)
Interpersonal Skills for Tomorrow's Leaders (3) Study of concepts of self identity, values and interpersonal relations as related to professional and personal life.

AF AM 100 (GS;US)
Evolving Status of Blacks in the Twentieth Century: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (3) An interdisciplinary, team-taught exploration of the evolving status of Black Americans in the twentieth century. Emphasis on the civil rights movement.

CAS 203 (GS)
Interpersonal Communication (3) Exploration of competent communication and the skills necessary to manage personal and professional relationships.

CRIMJ 013 (SOC 013) (GS)
Juvenile Delinquency (3) Juvenile conduct, causes of delinquency, current methods of treatment; organization, and function of agencies concerned with delinquency.

ECON 014 (GS)
Principles of Economics (3) Analysis of the American economy, emphasizing the nature and interrelationships of such groups as consumers, business, governments, labor, and financial institutions. Students who have passed ECON 002 or 004 or are registered in the Smeal College of Business may not schedule this course.

EDPSY 010 (GS)
Individual Differences and Education (3) Relationships between learner differences and physical, cognitive, language, social, and cultural development; emphasis on ethnicity, gender, special needs; schooling implications.

EDTHP 200 (GS)
Educational Reform and Public Policy (3) The course uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore the reforms that shape the nation's largest social institutional-public education.

IST 110 (GS)
Information, People and Technology (3) The use, analysis and design of information systems and technologies to organize, coordinate, and inform human enterprises.

NURS 245 (GS)
Violence and the Impact on Society (3) Interdisciplinary discussion of violence, its perpetrators, victims and its impact on society as well as possible solutions for violence reduction.

PSYCH 212 (GS)
Introduction to Developmental Psychology (3) Developmental principles; physical growth; linguistic, intellectual, emotional, and social development from infancy to maturity.

PSYCH 256 (GS)
Introduction to Cognitive Psychology (3) Introduction to study of such higher mental processes as thinking and reasoning, imagery, concept formation, problem solving, and skilled performance.

PSYCH 261 (GS)
Introduction to Psychology of Learning (3) A general survey of the learning area, including animal and human experiments, with the applicability of learning principles being discussed.

RHS 100 (GS;US;IL)
Introduction to Disability Culture (3) Social and cultural contexts of disability on both a micro and macro levels will be examined.

Leisure and Human Behavior (3) Leisure from historical and contemporary perspectives, including forces shaping leisure behavior, and relationships among leisure, the environment, and social institutions.

SOC 110 (WMNST 110) (GS;US)
Sociology of Gender (3) Changing sex role expectations and behavior for men and women in contemporary society.

Examples of relevant GN (Natural Science) courses:

ANTH 218 (GN)
Genes, Evolution and Behavior (4) This course explores how genes influence our traits and how our traits evolve, with special emphasis on behavior.

BI SC 003 (GN)
Environmental Science (3) Kinds of environments; past and present uses and abuses of natural resources; disposal of human wastes; prospects for the future. Students who have passed BIOL 220 or any other upper-level ecology course in biology may not schedule this course.

EARTH 103 (GN)
Earth in the Future: Predicting Climate Change and Its Impacts Over the Next Century (3) Climate predictions for the coming century are utilized to examine potential impacts on regions, sectors of society, and natural ecosystems.

EGEE 101 (MATSE 101) (GN)
Energy and the Environment (3) Energy utilization and technological development, energy resources, conversion and consequences on the local and global environment, and future energy alternatives.

SC 200 (GN)
Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy (3) A science appreciation course, aimed at making non-scientists more informed consumers of science.

VB SC 211 (GN)
The Immune System and Disease (3) Introduction to the immune system that emphasizes the immune response to infection and consequences of a defective immune response.

Examples of relevant GHA (Health & Activity) courses:

BB H 130 (GHA)
Strategies for Addressing the Obesity and Diabetes Epidemics (3) Strategies for understanding and modifying the factors underlying weight, health, and the current U.S. and worldwide obesity/diabetes epidemics.

BB H 143 (GHA)
Drugs, Behavior, and Health (3) Health aspects of use and abuse of licit and illicit drugs; related social problems and prevention. Designed for non-BB H majors.

BB H 146 (GHA)
Introduction to Health and Human Sexuality (3) An examination of human sexuality as it relates to health.

First Aid, Personal Safety, and CPR (1) A course designed to provide students with the opportunity for Red Cross certification in Community First Aid, Safety, and CPR.

Action Methods for Stress Management (3) Achieving wellness by studying the effects of stressors on systems of the body and effectiveness of activity to relieve stress.

NURS 203 (GHA)
First Aid and CPR (3) An introductory first aid course designed to provide the basic knowledge and skills to provide assistance to someone injured/ill.

Examples of relevant US Cultures courses:

AYFCE 438 (US)
Living in an Increasingly Diverse Society (1-3) Students in this course will explore selected dimensions of diversity through lecture, discussion, speakers, active participation, and experiential learning.

CRIMJ 423 (WMNST 423, CRIM 423) (US)
Sexual and Domestic Violence (3) Legal, sociological, and psychological perspectives on sexual and domestic violence.

CRIMJ 441 (CRIM 441) (US)
The Juvenile Justice System (3) Historical and contemporary view of the juvenile justice system. Focus on analyzing components of the system, their interactions, processing, and handling of youths.

RPTM 277 (US)
Inclusive Leisure Services (3) Review of leisure services and programs designed to be inclusive of individuals from underrepresented groups and overview of professional, legal, and ethical issues.

Relevant HDFS electives

Knowledge of development:

HD FS 229 - Infant and Child Development

HD FS 239 - Adolescent Development

HD FS 249 (GS) Adult Development and Aging

HD FS 330 - Observation or Experience with Preschool Children

HD FS 428 Infant Development

HD FS 429 - Advanced Child Development

HD FS 432 - Developmental Problems in Childhood and Adolescence

HD FS 433 Developmental Transition to Adulthood

HD FS 445 (PSYCH 416) Development Throughout Adulthood

HD FS 497E - Risk and Resilience over the Life Span

Special topics courses that may be relevant, based on your career goals:

HD FS 229 - Infant and Child Development

HD FS 239 - Adolescent Development

HD FS 330 - Observation or Experience with Preschool Children

HD FS 429 - Advanced Child Development

HD FS 430 - Experience in Preschool Groups

HD FS 432 - Developmental Problems in Childhood and Adolescence

HD FS 452 – Child Maltreatment Prevention, Intervention, and Legal Issues

HD FS 497E - Risk and Resilience over the Life Span

Supporting courses for students interested in teaching and education

Your supporting courses can focus on developing important teaching skills or they can help you learn about populations that interest you. There are many supporting courses for students interested in teaching and education. Use the supporting courses list (supporting-courses). Pay particular attention to courses in:

  • CRIM: several courses are relevant to students interested in learning about youth and delinquency.
  • ECE: courses focus on best practices in early care and education.
  • EDPSY: courses on learning and instruction.
  • PSYCH: there are courses on learning, developmental stages, psychopathology and many more.
  • SOC: courses explain the contexts in which people are learning, including educational institutions, social policies, and racial/ethnic diversity.

Optional Minors

As you think about courses to take, you may want to consider adding a minor. Relevant minors include Civic and Community Engagement, Educational Policy Studies, Recreation, Parks & Tourism Management, Sociology, and Youth & Family Education.

Courses with hands-on components

These are just some of the opportunities for hands-on experiences through course work. These courses might fit into your supporting courses or your HDFS electives. Keep your eyes open for other hands-on opportunities – sometimes new courses are added that may be perfect for your needs.

HDFS preschool observation and experience sequence

HD FS 330 - Observation or Experience with Preschool Children: This course focuses on the development of preschool children and includes time spent each week in a preschool classroom observing and interacting with children.

HD FS 430 - Experience in Preschool Groups: This course provides guided experience working with and developing activities for preschool age children.

Psychology school-age classroom experience sequence

PSYCH 477 – Mental Health Practicum with Children - Overview of interventions for children at risk for mental health disorders; emphasis on intervention strategies, program evaluation, and applied skills.

PSYCH 495K – Practicum with Hi-Risk Youth and Children - Overview of interventions for children at risk for mental health disorders; emphasis on intervention strategies, program evaluation, and applied skills. Continuation of PSYCH 477 held in the fall semester.

Peer Education: This may be useful for students interested in working with college student age populations or with lesbian, gay, transgendered or bisexual populations

B BH 251 Straight Talks I: Advanced Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Peer Education


World in Conversation: This may be particularly useful to anyone seeking a greater understanding of the role of race and gender in our society and ourselves.

SOC 119 Race and Ethnic Relations Historical patterns and current status of racial and ethnic groups; inequality, competition, and conflict; social movements; government policy. This is a highly interactive course.


There are also opportunities to become a facilitator for the World in Conversation project, helping other students talk about diversity.


Be a teaching assistant

Undergraduates with strong grades are often asked to be undergraduate teaching assistants for our larger courses. If you are interested in being an undergraduate teaching assistant, select a class that you loved and that you received a very good grade in. E-mail the instructor to see if there are any opportunities to be an undergraduate teaching assistant for that class.

Students enroll for 3 credits of HDFS 497 after they have been accepted as a TA for a specific instructor.

Work on a research project

Research projects relevant to students interested in teaching and education abound on campus. Projects focused on understanding at-risk families, learning how genes and environments interact to create behavior, intervening in families, and helping communities adopt evidence based practices can all provide valuable insight into the research process and in-depth knowledge about highly relevant topics. There are projects on education in HDFS, Sociology, Education, and many more departments.

Penn State is a world-class research institution. Some of the studies that you learn about in your classes are being done right here, and you can be part of them. Working on a research project is also a great way to get to know a professor and get a strong reference for graduate school, even if you don’t plan to go to graduate school for research.

Available research projects change all the time. Click here to learn more about how to get involved in research.

Students enroll for 1 – 3 credits of HDFS 496 after they have been accepted as an RA for a specific research project.