Frequently Asked Questions

How is a B.S. degree in Human Development and Family Studies different from a B.S. degree in Social Work?

Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) prepares students to work with individuals and families throughout the life cycle and in many different ways. Students examine how individual, family and community are interrelated, and develop sensitivity to the needs of families and their members through the broad lenses of relationships, culture, gender, age, social class, and life stage.

Students in the HDFS program use an open concentration option to focus specifically on their particular individual career interests. Some HDFS students are interested in social work as a career. Those students can take five social work classes and possibly do their internship at a human service agency. In Wisconsin, HDFS graduates can apply for a social worker training certificate. This would require taking all five social work courses, completing an 8-credit internship, and then passing a national and state examination in social work.

In general, HDFS students learn more about the development of individuals and family dynamics with less emphasis on the social work system. Social work programs have more emphasis on the social work system and less emphasis on individuals and families. 

What can I do with an Human Development and Family Studies degree?

With a comprehensive approach to learning, students will be well prepared to apply their education to the many disciplines that serve the needs of families. Graduates of the program are prepared for positions in a number of areas:

  • Human service agencies
  • Residential treatment programs and group homes
  • Afterschool/youth mentoring programs
  • Probation and corrections facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Older adult activity and living centers
  • Aging and disability services
  • Human resources management
  • Family resource centers
  • Youth summer camps
  • Child care facilities
  • Public/family policy and advocacy
  • Research 

The program also serves as an excellent foundation for graduate school in disciplines including:

  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Social Work
  • Alcohol and Drug Counseling
  • Mental Health Counseling
  • School Counseling
  • Student Personnel
  • Health and Wellness  


For answers to questions not addressed here, contact the program director at the address, telephone, or e-mail address listed on the Contact Information page.