The Human Development and Family Science PhD is a research doctoral program designed
to promote breadth, depth and integration of knowledge in human development and family
science. 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 who conduct high-quality
basic and applied research, 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.
This 72-hour doctoral program 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:
Lifespan Development and Family Theory (6 credit hours)
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
Official academic transcripts (3.0 minimum GPA) for each university attended (even
if only one course taken)
Three letters of recommendation
Professional Statement: 2-3 double-spaced pages; Address the following questions and
use clear headers for each question:
Why HDFS: What are your career goals, and how do you believe the PhD in HDFS will
prepare you for that career?
Research Interests: What area(s)/topics would you like to most like to investigate
during your doctoral program?
Fit: What three HDFS research faculty do you believe would best assist in your research
We recommend applicants identify and reach out to faculty who have research interests that are consistent with the applicant’s interests.
The HDFS Department is waiving the official GRE requirement for fall 2024 admissions
only. Any future waivers will be determined at a later date.
If English is a second language, applicants must submit results for TOEFL or IELTS
Applicants who wish to submit a writing sample may do so by uploading one as an “Additional
Document.” Potential advisors may also request a writing sample prior to making an
The review of graduate applications begins during the spring, followed by an informal
interview process with faculty who may serve as advisor for the student. The department
aims to make final decisions for admission by mid-March each year.
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.