Program Description:

The Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) program focuses to educate students through quality instruction and experiential learning in lifespan human development and family science by fostering critical thinking and the research, communication, and career-ready skills that prepare them to become professionals in service to individuals and families.

What it costs:

All of Mason’s tuition rates and fees can be found on our Student Accounts site.

Application Deadline:

For all application information and deadlines, see the Admissions site.


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Program Summary

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Program: Human Development and Family Science

Degree: Undergraduate

College/School: College of Humanities and Social Sciences/School of Individualized Study

Credits: 120 total

Who should apply?

Students who are interested in applying family-centered and strengths-based approaches to support the health and well-being of individuals and families in diverse communities. The HDFS curriculum prepares students to effectively engage with families across the lifespan and in a variety of service settings and professions, from early childhood education and care to family law and policy advocacy. Upon completion

of our program, students will be able to critically analyze complex family issues, advocate for families in schools, communities, and in the policy arena, and address social-structural factors contributing to and influencing family functioning, health, and well-being (e.g., poverty and wealth inequality, immigration and illegalization, family homelessness, incarceration, family violence, and discrimination and structural violence such as racism, nationalism, or heterosexism).

Why choose George Mason?

Students are required to complete an internship and integrate research training with service fieldwork. Such an experience is a critical component of HDFS student development and will further prepare our students for graduate education and diverse careers in the human development and family science field.


Link to program page in GMU Catalog:

Requirements: 120 credits total

There are 40 credits Human Development and Family Science core and specialization courses. See the catalog for additional College course requirements.

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree must apply at least 45 credits of upper-level courses (numbered 300 or above) toward graduation requirements.

The HDFS offers the following pre-approved courses for students seeking Certification as a Child Life Specialist by the Association of Child Life Professionals.

· Child Life Course: HDFS 301- The Hospitalized Child and Family

· Play: HDFS 302 – Therapeutic Benefits of Play

· Family Systems: HDFS 400 – Advanced Family Processes

For a sample four year plan of study and degree planning worksheet for the BA in Human Development and Family Science, look here.


For detailed information on the degree requirements for the BA in Human Development and Family Science, visit Mason’s Human Development and Family Science website.




While career guidance tends to be organized around what people do in their jobs (e.g. teach, manage), many students pursue an HDFS major because they want to work with families during particular stages of family life, such as working with young children, at-risk adolescents, new parents, or families with aging members. The following is a sample of career opportunities in HDFS:

· Business, Consumer & Family Resource Services (e.g., Corporate Childcare, Family Resource Management, Consumer Protection)

· Community-Based Social Services (e.g., Youth Development Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention & Assistance, After-school Program, Adult Day Care)

· Education (e.g., Public Schools, Family Life Education, Parent Education, Marriage & Family Enrichment & Education)

· Family Intervention (e.g., Case Management, Crisis & Hotline Services, Court-Mandated Parent Education, Divorce Mediation, Abuse Protection Services)

· Faith-Based Organizations (e.g., Family Mentor, Youth Program, Budgeting and Money Management)

· Early Childhood Education (e.g., Childcare Centers, Head Start Programs, Early Childhood Family Education)

· Government & Public Policy (e.g., Family Policy Analyst, Military Family Support Services, Child & Family Services, Juvenile Justice, Family Court)

· Healthcare & Family Wellness (e.g., Public Health Program & Services, Child Life Specialist, Wellness and Sexual Education)

· International Education & Development (e.g., Peace Corps and NGO Leadership, Global Family Planning Program, International Human Rights Advocacy, Immigration & Migrant Families Services)

· Graduate Program (e.g., Counseling, Education, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work)


Program contact: Undergraduate inquiries send an email to

Program website:

Department/College contact/website:

Application Materials

For all application information and deadlines, see the Admissions site.