Honors Study in Human Development and Family Studies
Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of individuals and families? Eager to help solve big problems in human development and family studies? Wondering why some children, adolescents, and families are resilient in the face of adversity, while others develop problems?
Schreyer Honors College scholars majoring in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) have exciting opportunities to immerse themselves in these and other related topics through advanced coursework, independent research, and hands-on experiences.
By joining the Schreyer Honors College, you will be empowered to make the most of your college years. The HDFS Department is consistently recognized nationwide for excellence in research — and graduating from the Schreyer Honors College with a degree in HDFS will allow you to show your academic skills, creativity, determination, and innovation, opening doors to limitless graduate school and career opportunities. If you are planning to pursue graduate study, we strongly encourage you to consider the Schreyer Honors College.
The HDFS Department offers a unique set of courses and experiences for Schreyer Honors College students. You will be able to design a program of study that matches your interests and helps you reach your career goals; register early for courses in any department or college; participate in honors seminars featuring small, discussion-based classes with 6–12 students; and have access to individualized advising. Additional benefits include financial and academic support for international travel and research, social and professional events for honors students, and opportunities for leadership and community service. All students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member, and we help our Schreyer Scholars take advantage of internships, research experiences, study abroad, and many other exciting opportunities available at a world-class research university like Penn State.
It's Not More Work — It's Different Work
You may be concerned that the Honors College will be more work when compared with the usual plan of study. Rest assured that honors courses are not more work; they are just a different kind of work. Instead of multiple-choice tests, you will have structured writing assignments and in-class discussions. You will read different material, with more opportunities to write and receive feedback. Your classes will be filled with other honors students: active thinkers, dedicated students, and involved leaders. Grades in honors courses are similar to grades that scholars would earn in their regular courses. Most importantly, honors experiences are designed to prepare you for graduate school and professional careers. Strong letters of reference from professors who have worked with you and know you well will support your applications to graduate school and future employers.
Admission to the Schreyer Honors College
High school students interested in HDFS and the Schreyer Honors College can declare HDFS as their intended major on their Penn State Undergraduate Admissions application. Prospective students and first-year college students who enter the Schreyer Honors College with a declared HDFS major, or an interest in exploring HDFS as a possible major, are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the HDFS honors adviser to discuss the program and its match with your academic and professional interests. She can also help you develop an academic plan to fit your goals for college and beyond.
Current Penn State students can be admitted to the Schreyer Honors College at the end of their freshman or sophomore year through the Gateway Admissions Process. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher may be eligible. We strongly encourage interested students with eligible GPAs to discuss the gateway option with the HDFS honors adviser, Dr. Lesley Ross. For more information on eligibility and admissions, see the Schreyer Honors College web page.
- Can I do this? I’m scared about writing a thesis.
Yes. Most of us are scared to do something new and a thesis is a big (but rewarding) challenge. We’ll help you identify your interests early on in the program and help you identify a thesis supervisor. You will take small classes in research methods and developmental theory to help you build a strong foundation of knowledge before you start your thesis. And the rewards of completing a thesis are big. The skills and knowledge that you develop during the thesis process — critical thinking skills, analytic skills, strong writing skills, experience working with a thesis supervisor, and experience breaking a large task into manageable pieces — will help you in whatever career you choose.
- Is the Honors College just for students who want to go into research?
No. The Honors College will give you a terrific head start on a career in any number of fields. The main benefits of the Honors College are help thinking about your career path and how to achieve your goals, access to many opportunities to gain in-depth knowledge, advanced skills, and practical experience, closer contact with the faculty through small classes, a thesis, and individualized advising. You can design a plan for how you want to achieve your goals whatever they are and participating in the Honors College will provide you with extra tools and opportunities to get there.
- Can I still do an internship?
Yes. We strongly encourage honors students to get real-world experience through volunteering in the community, acting as teaching assistants, working in research labs, and doing internships. Most honors students have more than one real-world experience during their time in the Honors College.
- Can I study abroad and still be in the Honors College?
Yes. The Schreyer Honors College strongly encourages study abroad, and so do we. We have set up the honors curriculum so that you can study abroad and still be well-prepared for your thesis.
- I see a lot of extra requirements. Will I still graduate on time?
Yes. The Honors College requirements replace some of the typical requirements for your major. In fact, because of the flexibility the Honors College provides and the fact that many honors students have AP credits and occasionally take more than 15 credits per semester, some honors students actually graduate a semester early.