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Doctorate in Human Development and Family Science

The HDFS Ph.D. is a research doctoral program designed to promote breadth, depth and integration of knowledge in HDFS. Doctoral students collaborate with faculty and other graduate students on research projects which integrate the theoretical and empirical knowledge bases of Developmental Science and Family Science, and investigate key processes associated with risk and resilience. Graduates develop into scholars able to conduct high quality basic and applied research, to provide relevant instruction, develop effective interventions, and contribute to the development of informed public policy that reduces risk and enhances resilience within individuals and among families across cultures and generations.



The HDFS Ph.D. program is a 72-hour doctoral program that can be done straight from a bachelor’s degree or after completing a master’s degree. The first 30 hours of the doctoral program confers an in-flight Master’s Degree in Developmental and Family Science. Students can pick either a Developmental Science or Family Science Option for advanced study.

Doctoral coursework includes:


  • 6 hours of core Lifespan Development and Family Theory
  • Thesis or thesis equivalent project
  • 6 hours of research methods
  • 9-11 hours of Statistics and Analysis
  • 30 hours of committee approved elective courses
  • 15 hours of dissertation research

 We prepare students for academic careers

Course information


Research and Faculty

Our nationally known faculty are engaged in a cross section of collaborative research focused on risk and resilience. The department is home to the Center for Family Resilience, a community resource that translates faculty research about families. Faculty are successful in earning external grants and contracts that often fund graduate research assistantships.


Meet our faculty

Article: "Family Resilience: Moving into the third wave"

Co-Parenting for Resilience

Institute for Developmental Disabilities

College research initiatives



Applications are accepted twice a year with the following deadlines:

Fall Priority: December 1  
Fall Final: December 15 

Spring: October 15

To apply to the PhD in Human Development and Family Science please submit the following:
Teacher and student

  • Graduate College application
  • Due to COVID-19, the Department of Human Development and Family Science is waiving the GRE test score requirement as part of the application process for spring and fall 2022 admission.
  • Official academic transcripts (3.0 minimum GPA required)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of professional goals
  • Resume or CV

Graduate student resources 


Cost & Assistance

Students may be eligible for tuition waivers or graduate assistantships from the department. Currently enrolled students are also eligible for scholarships offered through the College of Education and Human Sciences.  


Assistantships and support


Financing graduate school 


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