Click here to return to Messiah College's homepage
Human Development and Family Science

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is Human Development & Family Science (HDFS)?

Human Development and Family Science is a course of study that focuses on the development of the individual in the context of family and society, with particular attention to interpersonal dynamics. For more information, click here.


What is Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS)?

Family and Consumer Sciences educators seek to improve the decision making and practical and interpersonal skills of school-aged individuals. Educating students about family life, reasoning, relationships skills, interpersonal communication, personal nutrition, child development, human sexuality, and parenting, increases their competency in these areas and promotes their overall well-being. For more information, click here.


What if I just want to try your major, what class should I take to get a broad overview?

You should take Foundations of Marriage and Family (HDFS 101), which is offered every semester and counts for your social science general education requirement. According to the course description, this course is "an overview of the distinct perspective and content areas of the field of family science. The course will focus on the discovery of and application of knowledge about the family, with special emphasis on multicultural diversity and Christian integration." Click here to see why you should take Foundations of Marriage and Family. You may also talk with our Department Chair, Dr. Raeann Hamon, for more information or other course suggestions.


I am interested in working with children when I graduate, will the HDFS major prepare me to do that?

Absolutely! We have 3 faculty members in our department who are experts in the area of child and adolescent development and work with students inside and outside of class in order to prepare them to work in a variety of careers with children. Our majors are required to take Child Development, Adolescent Develoment, and Parenting. In addition our students take courses in family dynamics which broaden their understanding of how children and adolescents develop in the context of different family environments. Understanding how families are different and how they influence children is important because many professions that provide servies for children also provide services for children's familes. HDFS gives students a unique perspecitve in order to work with families of children. Our majors are required to take Human Sexuality, which is taught from a Christian perspective and prepares students who will be working with adolescents as they go through tough issues like puberty and peer pressure to engage in sexual activities. Many of our alumni work with children in a variety of capcities, such as Child Life Specialists (individuals who work with children and their families in hospital settings), as Caseworkers, Fostercare workers, Adoption workers, and so many more. Click here for more information about the HDFS major.


What specific aspects of human development are examined in the HDFS major?

Students in human development and family science develop an in depth understanding of human development from conception until death. Students are required to take four development courses (Child, Adolescent, and Adult Development, along with one aging course that examines development in late adulthood). In these four courses students study emotional, social, personality, language, cognitive, and physical development over the entire lifespan. Students are exposed to major theories and theorist of development, such as Erikson, Freud, Piaget, Levinson, Hall, Kohlberg and attachment theory, in addition to other theories such as behavioral theories, ecological models, and family systems theory. Click here for more information about this major.


What can I do with a degree from your department?

Career options in family science are as endless as one’s imagination, as students not only receive stage-specific training (childhood, adolescence, adulthood or older age), but they also may chose to specialize in any number of areas such as sexuality, spirituality, health and wellness, family law, therapy and counseling, poverty, or immigration, just to name a few. Further, our family science curriculum is structured in such a way that students learn to develop skills that are invaluable to any employer. With such transferable skills, our students become highly marketable to employers of many disciplines, thereby enabling our students to pursue a passion rather than a job title. Dr. Hamon and Dr. Boyd-Soisson have co-authored an article elaborating upon the idea of transferable skills and marketability that is both practical and specific to the family science discipline. You’ll want to take a minute and read it now. Click here for the article in PDF format. For specific examples of career opportunities and other related information, click here.


What kind of jobs have your graduates gotten after graduation?

Our graduates have worked in a variety of settings, including but not limited to: Community-based social services; Early childhood education and education; faith-based organizations; family intervention programs; government and public policy fields; health care and family wellness;and gerontological outlets. For more specific information, click here.


Where do your graduates go for graduate school?

Our graduates have been accepted to and have attended a variety of colleges and universities following graduation from Messiah. For a specific list, click here.


What percentage of your graduates go on to graduate school? What percentage obtain professional employment after graduation?

These are difficult statistics to provide since many of our graduates do eventually go on to further their education and continue to apply their skills and knowledge in a variety of professional contexts. However, based upon the information provided to our Department in the Post-Graduation Report for the Class of 2007 (compiled by the Messiah College Career Center), 7 of our 25 graduates (28%) reported immediate plans to attend graduate school. Thirteen (52%) indicated that they were working in a professional capacity, one (4%) that he/she was volunteering, and the remaining four (16%) did not respond. The data gathered from the past five years of graduates (2003-2007) indicates that about 50% of our graduates obtain professional employment (i.e., employment requiring a degree), 12% pursue an advanced degree, 9% either volunteer, are seeking employment or are working in a non-professional capacity, and 29% had not responded to the Career Center's inquiries.


What is “Messiah College Council on Family Relations (MCCFR)”? How do I join?

MCCFR stands for Messiah College Council on Family Relations and is an affiliate council of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and is a nationally recognized student professional organization dedicated to service, professional development and social activities. MCCFR is recognized by Messiah College’s Student Government Association as an official college organization and receives the privileges as such. For more information, click here.


What is the “Men of HDFS?”

A social group of male students who are majoring or minoring within the Department. This group meets periodically throughout the semester. For more information, contact Paul Johns.

Are there any special academic opportunities for students in your department?

There are numerous opportunities for students in our department, some of which include leadership roles, professional development, honors and awards, and social and professional networking. For the specifics, click here.


What is a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE)?

ccording the NCFR website, Family Life Education (FLE) is the educational effort to strengthen individual and family life through a family perspective. The objective of family life education is to enrich and improve the quality of individual and family life by providing knowledge and skills needed for effective living. FLE emphasizes processes to enable people to develop into healthy adults and to realize their potential. Family life education helps people to work together in close relationships and facilitates the ability of people to function effectively in their personal lives and as members of society. While various professionals assist families, it is the family life educator who incorporates a family-systems, preventive, and educational approach to individual and family issues. For more information, click here. Why should I become a Certified Family Life Educator?


While CFLEs may work specifically in one discipline, such as parent education or marriage enrichment, their understanding of the many areas that affect today's families enables them to be more effective in their efforts to educate and work with individuals and families. The Certified Family Life Educator designation recognizes the educational, preventive, and enriching nature of their work. Additionally, standards identified for certification help to increase awareness and understanding of family life education as a profession. For more information, click here.

I already have a bachelor’s degree and now I want to teach. Do you have a program for me?

We offer a Post Baccalaureate Certification for Family & Consumer Sciences Education. To learn more about the Certification-Only program, click here.


How can I become a workstudy student in your department?

Each semester a limited number of students are assigned as Faculty Assistants and work to help faculty members with tasks such as copying, filing, typing, doing research, drafting documents, and planning events. Typically, positions for the following academic year are determined by March. For more information or to express your interest in one of these positions, contact Debbie Chopka , Department Administrative Assistant.


I would like to attend a professional conference, but I am short on funds. Is there any financial assistance available for this type of thing?

The department regularly does fundraising for this purpose, but you must participate in the fundraising efforts to benefit from it. We are in the process of building an Student Professional Endowment Fund as well. The Dr. Dorothy J. Gish Women in Leadership Award is a monetary grant awarded on a competitive basis. Applications from eligible female Messiah College students are typically accepted each semester. In addition, the Student Government Association, on occasion, offers small stipends to students who are presenting at conferences.

Contact Us
Give to the HDFS Student Professional Development Fund

PDF of Career Booklet

Career Booklet