Developmental and Family Science Major

Department of Human Development and Family Science

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The developmental and family science curriculum allows you to take an interdisciplinary approach to studying families and human development across the life span. You’ll receive a broad education in human development and family studies with the opportunity to specialize in one of the major’s optional concentrations in child development or family and community health. The major culminates in a capstone experience, which you can choose to be an internship, a research thesis or study abroad program. With a degree in this profession, you will be ready to pursue an advanced academic degree in graduate school or begin a career in child welfare, counseling, education, social work or public administration.

You may also choose to participate in one of the Department of Human Development and Family Science’s (HDFS) interdisciplinary programs in gerontology, applied behavior analysis or public health.

Career Opportunities

  • Aging/elder care activity director
  • Autism or developmental specialists
  • Childcare program director
  • Community health educator
  • Extension educator
  • Family life educator
  • Program development and evaluation 
  • Public policy and advocacy
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Youth development worker

Potential Areas of Advanced Study

  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Public health
  • Occupational therapy
  • Gerontology
  • Human development and family science
  • Law or public policy
  • Youth development

Examples of DVFS internship placements

  • Autism centers
  • Child and youth development programs
  • Day camps
  • Early childhood centers
  • Community health programs
  • Event planning and fundraising
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Retirement/senior living communities
  • Social advocacy organizations
  • Volunteer coordinator

Learning Experiences

  • Design a required capstone experience linked to your interests from among three choices:
    • Complete a substantial research project under the mentorship of a Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) faculty member. Guidance about the research project can be found in the capstone thesis research requirements.
    • Fulfill a six-credit internship (fall, spring or summer) in a relevant organization. Internship placements are arranged through HDFS 45400.
    • Participate in a study abroad experience relevant to HDFS. Experiences of at least six credits complete the requirement.

The student must propose their desired capstone experience to the faculty, then fill in the DVFS Capstone Experience Request form before meeting with their advisor.

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Child Development

The optional child development concentration focuses on the development of children from infancy through adolescence, covering physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional processes.

Family and Community Health

The optional family and community health concentration focuses on the role families play in illness and disability through the study of population health and family processes.

“I chose Purdue because of the warm, welcoming atmosphere on campus and after experiencing the College of HHS advisor’s commitment to the students when I came to visit in May. My advisor is always willing to listen to my ideas for my four-year plan and then point me in the right direction to get there.

— Amy