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As a Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) major, you will leverage your Penn State education and a vast network of like-minded professionals to find a fulfilling career aimed at helping individuals and families in your own and other cultures within the context of their families, workplace, schools, community, and society at large.

There is a seemingly endless array of positions in which your skills and knowledge will be put to great use, including:

Social work, counseling, and psychology: If you are interested in exploring careers that address societal issues like child, spouse and elder abuse, substance use, and divorce, HDFS provides strong preparation for entry-level positions as well as for the graduate degree programs required for professional level work in these fields.

Teaching and education: Many HDFS students opt for positions in childcare centers, youth service organizations, and adult education — as well as programs like America Reads or Teach for America — or go on to pursue graduate degrees in special education.

Advocacy and non-profit work: Local and national organizations are in need of individuals who combine their knowledge of healthy human development and intervention with good administrative and management skills to work at non-profit organizations focused on solving social problems. These jobs involve less direct service and more program coordination and planning, developing public information materials, and advocating for social change.

Business: Companies are always in search of individuals with strong people skills. HDFS students receive training in essential business skills like communicating, listening, understanding group processes and dynamics, and working with others — and some go on to pursue careers in human resources, public relations, training, and development.

Health careers: HDFS students interested in health-related careers can continue on to receive training in occupational therapy, physical therapy, or child life services. If this is your desired path, be sure to plan your degree program carefully to be sure you are taking appropriate science and health courses that will prepare you for graduate training and certification in these fields.

Research: Penn State is a world-class research institution, and professors in the HDFS department are engaged in a number of high-profile research initiatives. It is often possible to get an entry-level position providing support to a research project straight out of college, particularly if you have worked on a research project as an undergraduate and if you have taken some statistics courses.

Career Services

It is never too early in your academic experience to explore all of the career services available to you, and Penn State Career Services is an excellent place to start. You can meet with a drop-in counselor any time between 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. weekdays in the Bank of America Career Services Center to discuss your concerns or to schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

For Students: Recruiting Calendar — Take advantage of a variety of recruiting events offered right here on campus.

For Recruiters: Our Students — Learn how to hire Penn State graduates for a wide variety of positions.

Become a Protégé

As a junior, our Mentor Program allows you an opportunity to be matched with a professional in your field(s) of interest who can offer advice and information about career options and other related issues. The program allows you to explore internships, career choices, and plans after graduation with your mentor.

See Also

Human Development and Family Studies Internships