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Human Development and Family Science Major

If you're interested in interpersonal dynamics and the development of people within the context of their families and society, the Human Development and Family Science major may be for you.

Classroom HDFS

What is Human Development & Family Science?

HDFS 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. 

Curriculum Overview

Students majoring in Human Development and Family Science take a series of core courses that provide a foundation for understanding the complex issues related to families. Our curriculum covers the family life cycle, human development from conception to old age, the individual sub-systems within the family, as well as the family and its relationship with the external environment and other social systems.

Key Content Areas

  • Human Development
  • Sexuality
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Courtship and Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Internal Dynamics
  • Family Ethics
  • Family Diversity
  • Family Processes such as communication, decision making, and problem solving
  • Family Life Education Methodology
  • Family Resource Management

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.

Specific Course Requirements

For more details on the curriculum requirements and the types of courses you would be taking as a Human Development and Family Science Major, visit our Online Course Catalog or take a look at the printable Human Development and Family Science Department Brochure.

(Course catalog and major brochure include PDF files. Click here for the Adobe® PDF Reader®)

Provisional Certified Family Life Educator Designation

Human Development & Family Science graduates are eligible to become provisionally certified as a Family Life Educator (CFLE) through the National Council on Family Relations without having to take the CFLE Exam. CFLE’s incorporate a preventative and educational approach to individual and family issues. They seek to strengthen family life through a family perspective. Learn more about the CFLE Designation.


Contact Dr. Raeann Hamon, the Department Chair at(717) 796-1800, ext. 2850

How to Apply

To apply for admission to Messiah College, simply call and request an application at 1-800-233-4220 or apply online! Open House dates and major-specific events are scheduled throughout the year. Students may arrange for a variety of visit options to suit their interests and schedule.