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Explore Health and Human Development

119 Health and Human Development Building, 814-863-8000, Fax: 814-863-7963,

Douglas Teti, Department Head, 105 Health and Human Development Building, 814-863-9570,

Scott Gest , Professor-In-Charge, Undergraduate Program, 110 Health and Human Development Building, 814-865-3464,

Devon Thomas, Undergraduate Adviser, 127 Health and Human Development Building, 814-863-8000,

Home Page: /hdfs

Penn State Altoona College (HFSAL)

Penn State Harrisburg (HFSCA)

Other Penn State Campuses (HFSCC): Penn State Delaware County, Penn State Dubois, Penn State Fayette, Penn State Mont Alto, Penn State Shenango Valley, Penn State Worthington-Scranton, Penn State York

Penn State University Park and Penn State World Campus College of Health and Human Development (HD FS)

Apply online

University Faculty Senate Approved Curriculum
Recommended Academic Plan(s)
Semester-by-semester academic plans recommend in table form the courses students might schedule each semester as they pursue a particular degree. These tables serve several University purposes and assist multiple constituencies: students, advisers, departments, deans, registrars, admissions officers, and family members. The plans:
  • Identify normal academic progress, course offerings, and recommended course sequencing;
  • Assist students and advisers in planning academic schedules, registrars and departments in planning course offerings, and registrars and deans in determining when students should change campus;
  • Help students to anticipate the academic workload and courses needed to earn a degree, and to schedule appropriate prerequisites;
  • Serve as tools to help advisers learn the curriculum.

Semester scheduling recommendations for all baccalaureate majors can also be found in the University Bulletin.

Recommended Academic Plan(s) - Associate Degree Programs
HD FS Adult Development and Aging option (2EHFS/ADA) at World Campus
HD FS Children Youth and Family Services option (2EHFS/CYF) at World Campus
Recommended Academic Plan(s) - Baccalaureate Programs
HD FS LSDS Recommended Academic Plan (UP)
HD FS LSHS Recommended Academic Plan (UP and WD)
HD FS/CEAED PK-4 Recommended Academic Plan
Degree Audit
HD FS LSDS Degree Audit
HD FS LSHS Degree Audit

Program Information

This major is a multidisciplinary program that examines the development of individuals and families across the life span. It enables students to prepare for professional, managerial, or scientific roles in health and human services professions, in public and nonprofit agencies, and in business and industry, as well as for advanced professional or graduate study. Students obtain a broad background in individual and family development across the life span. Courses emphasize biological, psychological, social/cultural, and economic aspects of development. Through coursework and undergraduate internships or research projects, students develop skills relevant to career objectives, such as counseling, human assessment, program planning and evaluation, and research.

Two options are available within the major:
(1) Life Span Human Services Option
This option focuses on the acquisition and application of scientific knowledge about
development and family functioning across the life span for the purposes of enhancing personal and family development. Courses emphasize: (1) understanding the biological, psychological, and social development across the life span, and the structuring and functioning of families; (2) understanding basic theoretical and methodological issues; and (3) the development of applied skills in intervention and evaluation, prevention, and in the formulation of social policy. An approved field experience in a setting that serves children, youth, adults, or the aged is required for this option. Typical employment settings include preschools, day care centers, hospital programs for children, youth, and families, institutional and community mental health programs for individuals and families, programs for abused or neglected children and adolescents, women's resource centers, human resources programs, employee assistance programs, nursing homes, area agencies on aging and other community settings for older adults, and public welfare and family service agencies. Typical postgraduate pursuits of students completing this option include graduate study in human development, family studies, psychology, or sociology, or advanced professional training in psychology, law, behavioral health, counseling or social work.
(2) Life Span Developmental Science Option
This option focuses on the understanding of contemporary methodological approaches to the aquisition of scientific knowledge about individual development over the life span and about family development. This opinion provides preparation for advanced training in careers in developmental or family research, teaching at a college or university, or for professional careers that require graduate training. Courses within this option emphasize a thorough understanding of the theory and methods of developmental and family theory and research. An approved, multi-semester research practicum is an integral component of this option. Typical postgraduate pursuits of students completing this option include graduate study in human development, family studies, psychology, or sociology, or advanced professional training in psychology, law, behavioral health, social work, or in other programs related to services for individuals and families.

For a B.S. degree in Human Development and Family Studies, a minimum of 120 credits is required.
Concurrent Majors in HD FS and Childhood & Early Adolescent Education
The HDFS/CEAED(PK-4) was created by the department of Human Development and Family Studies (HD FS) and the College of Education to provide students with an opportunity to explore the wide range of career options available to HD FS graduates while also considering whether to become a certified teacher of elementary education. Students thinking of a career working with children between the ages of 0-10, and who might like a career in the Human Services field (Counselor, Social Worker, etc.) OR a career as a teacher of young children in daycare, coummunity preschool, or preschool through grade 4 in the public schools, should pursue this opportunity. This program is ideally suited for students entering their first year at Penn State. Students may enter this program either tthrough the HD FS program or the CEAED major (PK-4) option.

Entrance to Major Requirements

Entrance to the HD FS major requires completion of 29.1 credits and a 2.00 cumulative grade point average.

Career Opportunities

For information on types of organizations and sample job titles, refer to Career Opportunities.


The internship (HD FS 495A and HD FS 495B) or the Field practice/Group Project (HD FS 402 and HD FS 495C) is usually completed in the student ’s senior year. The objectives are to: (1) provide the student with an opportunity to apply the theory and skills learned in the classroom setting to an actual job setting; (2) develop professional skills and identity; (3) understand the major issues and problems confronting a particular organization; and (4) determine potential employment opportunities. For more information about internships see the HD FS website at:

HD FS Honors Program

The Honors Program in HD FS is part of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. Participation in the Honors Program is by invitation. If you are invited and choose to join, you will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies with Honors. Once enrolled in the HD FS Honors Program you will have the opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor, to study in depth a topic of interest to you, and to develop a flexible program of course work tailored to your interests and future goals. More information about the HDFS Honors program can be found at

Clubs and Honor Societies

HD FS Undergraduate Student Organization (USO)

CHHD Honor Society is open to any undergraduate student in the College (with a 3.30 GPA or higher). Letters of invitation are sent to eligible students each fall. The Society has regular meetings throughout the year and sponsors a variety of service projects. For more information, please contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Outreach, 865-1427.

For more information on the Kappa Omicron Nu Honors Society please refer to the Kappa Omicron Nu national website or contact the local Omicron Tau Chapter.

For more information on the Phi Upsilon Omicron Honors Society, please refer to the Phi Upsilon Omicron national website.

Job Outlook (Occupational Outlook Handbook)


  • Courses on this supporting list are to be chosen carefully and thoughtfully. You should keep your career goals in mind and select courses that will strengthen your background toward those goals. Consultation with your adviser is recommended.
  • Some of the courses on this supporting list have prerequisites. Make sure you meet the prerequisite(s) before registering for a course.
  • Other courses may be taken in consultation with adviser; course substitution petition required

Human Development and Family Studies Possible Career Tracks




Nursery Schools
Daycare Programs
Public Welfare Agencies
Residential Child Care Facilities
Social Service Agencies
Child Advocacy Programs
Family Service Agencies
Child Life in Hospitals
Programs in Social or Emotional Problems
Children’s Homes

Youth Development Centers
Public Welfare Agencies
Residential Treatment Facilities
Social Services Agencies
Child Advocacy Programs
Family Service Agencies
Child Life in Hospitals
Daycare Centers for Special Needs Children
Children’s Homes
Mental Health Facilities
Community Youth Centers
Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
Drug Rehab Programs

Family Service Agencies
Mental Health Centers
Hospital Social Services
Family Planning
Rehabilitation Centers
Community Mental Health
Community Action Programs
Home Economics Ext. Programs
Credit Counseling Centers
Parent Education Programs
Employment Assistance Programs
Public Welfare Agencies
Chemical Dependency Programs


Research/Grad School


Geriatric Care Centers
Nursing Homes
Area Agencies on Aging
Family Services Agencies
Municipal Housing Authorities
Pre-Retirement Counseling Programs
Volunteer Coordination
Senior Centers
Community Mental Health Programs
Rehabilitation Centers
Hospice Programs
Adult Day Care
Psychiatric Hospitals

Research Institutes
Public Relations
Graduate School in:
Human Development
Marriage and Family Studies
Psychology School Counseling
Social Work


A Sampling of Prospective Job Titles for HD FS Majors *

  • Activities Specialist for Nursing Home
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Adult Day Care Coordinator
  • Alcoholism Therapist
  • Assistant Manager of Employee Relations
  • Assistant Executive Director
  • Case Manager
  • Child Life (or Play) Therapist (hospital)
  • Clinic Coordinator for Autistic Children
  • Community Health Educator
  • Counselor
  • Crisis Intervention Counselor
  • Customer Service Agent for Airlines
  • Director of Social Services
  • Employment Manager
  • Family Counselor
  • Family Planning Counselor
  • Field Placement Personnel Specialist
  • Group Supervisor (preschool)
  • Health Program Specialist
  • Hospice Counselor
  • Hospital Relations Coordinator
  • Intake Interviewer
  • Job Placement Specialist
  • Juvenile Probation Officer
  • Manager of Customer Services
  • Marketing/Program Manager
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Oncology Social Worker
  • Police Officer
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Project Manager for Social Services
  • Psychiatric Aide
  • Public Affairs Consultant
  • Sales Representative
  • Senior Underwriter for Insurance Corporation
  • Social Worker
  • Social Security Benefit Authorizer
  • Staff Associate
  • Store Manager
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Supervisor, Shelter for Homeless Adults
  • University Admissions Counselor

* These titles are intended to show the variety of positions that HD FS graduates hold .