The Master of Science thesis program in Human Development and Family Studies prepares graduates for research positions and for advanced research study at the doctoral level.

The M.S. thesis program of study focuses on the intersection of human development, family processes, and socio-cultural context and is committed to the application of strength-based approaches to the study of diverse children and families.

Graduate course work focuses on building foundational knowledge in human development, family studies, race, class, and culture, research methods, and theories of HDFS. Students also complete elective coursework that includes graduate seminars on topics such as:

  • African American Families
  • Child Development in Cultural Context
  • Children, Poverty, and Public Policy
  • Cognitive Development in Young Children
  • Contemporary Research in Early Childhood Education
  • Families and Health
  • Immigrant Families
  • Risk & Resilience in Children and Families
  • Adolescence
  • Social Justice Research with Diverse Families
  • Work & Family

The Student Experience

  • Students study the intersection of human development, family process, and socio-cultural context in a collaborative and rigorous program. 
  • Students engage in hands-on research training through mentored research with faculty.
  • Students learn and apply strength-based approaches to study diverse children and families.


Students from our M.S. program go on to do the following:

  • Ph.D. student
  • Research Project Director
  • Non-profit Administrator
  • Community Engagement Specialist & Recruitment Manager
  • Social Service Agency Director
  • Program Manager
  • Research Scientist
  • Data Analyst

Facts and Figures

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Human Development and Family
Studies M.S. Programs in NC


HDFS graduate program in NC
by The HDFS Report, 2017

HDFS masters student

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Class Type

  • In person
heather helms

Heather M. Helms, Ph.D.
[email protected]

Graduate Director