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Human Development and Family Science

In human development and family science (HDFS), you’ll explore cultural, economic, and social factors that shape children and families, and their relationships.

The program brings together research, theory, and fieldwork with children and families to prepare you for a future in:

  • Early child development: Improve young children’s capacity to develop and learn.
  • Youth and family development: Focus on youth and family needs, including social services, health, juvenile justice programs, counseling centers, and recreation and athletic programs.
  • Early childhood education: Provide the foundation young children need to be successful.
  • Child life specialist: Help children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events.
  • Certified family life educator (CFLE): Build skills to strengthen family experience.

You can specialize in the fields listed above, or pursue a master’s degree track in early childhood education (four years undergraduate and a one-year master’s).

From small classes with passionate professors, to community connections and incredible internship opportunities, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Falk College alumna.

—Charlotte Klass ’17, Human Development and Family Science

About Falk

Social justice principles are at the foundation of programs in exercise science, food studies, human development and family science, marriage and family therapy, public health, nutrition, social work, sport analytics and sport management. Academics, service learning projects, internships, research opportunities, immersion travel and clubs connected to our majors prepare students for careers to make a difference in the communities where they will live and work.


Core coursework covers family development, interpersonal competence, human sexuality, and development of children in the family. Sample courses include:

  • Intro to Gerontology
  • Power, Conflict, and Violence in Families
  • Work and Family in the 21st Century
  • Lust, Love, and Relationships
  • Development across the Lifecycle
  • Human Development and Sport

View official major requirements.

Practical Experience

The human development and family science program provides you in-class and field experiences so you can practice working with children and families from various cultures and social settings.

  • Create activities for children at the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School, an inclusive early childhood education program located on campus.
  • Participate in an internship focused on enriched early childhood programs and inclusive education.
  • Gain experience through a practicum in a community organization such as Head Start, Syracuse City School District, or SUNY Upstate Medical University.
  • Join faculty members as they research such areas as marriage, crises in families, and parenting.

Study Abroad

Broaden your perspective and enhance your resume with a study abroad experience during your college years. Consistently ranked among the top 25 in the U.S., Syracuse Abroad has more than 100 programs in 60 countries. CFS students most often study abroad in South Africa, Italy, Chile, and China.

Life After Syracuse University

As a graduate with a degree in human development and family science, you can explore careers such as:

  • Preschool teacher
  • Juvenile program supervisor
  • Case manager
  • Community service director

Or pursue graduate training in such areas as psychology, social work, health, law, or education. Recent graduates of the program have attended some of the top graduate schools in the U.S.