Human Development and Family Studies, M.S.


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 Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies requires a minimum of 39 credit hours (including thesis) and prepares graduates to conduct research or to embark on a doctoral program of study.

Program Distinctions

  • The HDFS graduate program at UNCG is ranked #4 nationally and #1 in the Southeast by Family Science Review.
  • The program is ranked #10 nationally and #1 in NC for HDFS graduate programs by The HDFS Report.
  • The HDFS M.S. program at UNCG is one of only two master’s of science programs in Human Development and Family Studies in the UNC system and the state of North Carolina.

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’ substantive interests are supported with coursework in cutting-edge research methods and analyses for the study of development and family processes in context. 
  • Students learn and apply strength-based approaches to study diverse children and families.

After Graduation

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

See our Alumni from our M.S. program!

Apply to Program

Applications are accepted once a year, and completed applications are due no later than December 15th.

In addition to the materials required by The Graduate School, applicants must submit:

  • A 1-3 page professional statement to explain their:
    • Reasons for pursuing graduate study in HDFS,
    • Previous experience and training in HDFS or related fields,
    • Professional goals,
    • Primary areas of research interest, and
    • Faculty members with whom they are most interested in working.
  • An academic writing sample (e.g. senior year paper, literature review paper, honor’s thesis, or a manuscript published or accepted/submitted for publication).

Doctoral Minor

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Program Details

Degree Type: Master's

College/School: School of Health and Human Sciences

Program Type: Majors & Concentrations

Class Type: In Person

Contact Us

Heather M. Helms, PhD
Graduate Program Director
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
165 D Stone Building

Michael Kerley