The Department of Human Development and Family Studies prepares students to understand early child development, adolescent changes, family relationships, and cultural influences as foundational to creating impactful prevention and intervention practices.  Students are taught and mentored by faculty who are nationally and internationally recognized experts.

Students are prepared to work in organizations serving children, adolescents, adults, and families through advocacy, strategic interventions, education practices, policy reform, and research.  They graduate with leadership and research skills to improve the quality of life particularly for those managing significant challenges.

Faculty and their students study the impact of parent-infant relationships, race issues, identity development and renegotiation, aging, developmental disparities, gun violence, refugee welfare, leadership in early childhood, and family dynamics across the lifespan.

 Along with former graduates, they are influencing policies, developing culturally sensitive parenting programs, training teachers, shaping effective and inclusive childcare programs, and creating initiatives for refugee and immigrant communities. Undergraduate students have opportunities to conduct research, participate in pre-professional internships, and gain hands-on training working with infants and young children. 

Degrees Offered

Our programs consistently receive top rankings, including the 4th-ranked doctoral program in the country and being ranked 2nd for its online programs and “best value” degrees. Bachelor’s degree graduates have foundational knowledge of sociocultural influence and equity that shape individuals’ school, work, and relationship experiences. All students participate in a field-based internship addressing prevention, intervention, and education practices. Online and in-person programs include the M.Ed. in Birth through Kindergarten (BK) Administration, B.S. NC teacher licensure, the B.S. in Early Care and Education, and a post-B.S. certificate in Leadership in Infant and Toddler Learning. Research-track PhD students examine the biological, relational, early educational, social, and cultural foundations of development and their implications for families. A defining focus of HDFS degree and certificate programs is an emphasis on applying strength-based approaches to the study and work conducted with diverse children and families.

Department Highlights

Online degree options, undergraduate research opportunities, study abroad opportunities, large scale funded research projects and educational initiatives for diverse groups (National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families; Child & Family Research Network; Child Care Education Program lab school; North Carolina Rated License Assessment Project; Early Childhood Leadership & Policy Network; Triad Child Study)