Human Development and Family Studies

Doctoral Degree Program

A healthy life, their whole life

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Understanding human development across the lifespan

HDFS research, teaching and outreach help people live their healthiest, most successful and resilient lives.

The Oregon State University doctoral degree program in human development and family studies provides research-based training for an interdisciplinary understanding of individuals and families, preparing you for a successful career in research and teaching.

Our graduates go on to work in top-tier programs and universities where they have an opportunity to generate and share knowledge that promotes the health and well-being of all people and families.

Connect research with practice

As a doctoral student in HDFS, you will collaborate with world-class faculty members on interdisciplinary research in one of the top HDFS programs in the country.

You will work closely with faculty on cutting edge, federally funded research projects, peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national and international conferences, giving you the skills needed to become an independent scholar working in the academic, public or private sectors.

Our signature research areas:

  • Transitions across the life course  
  • Resilience and health across the lifespan
  • Families in sociocultural contexts  
  • Policies and applications of developmental and family science 

Meet HDFS faculty members.

Doctoral student research spotlight

Svea Gordon Olsen, MS
HDFS PhD student

Svea’s research interests center on immigrant and refugee youth in the United States.

She seeks to understand how sociopolitical context influences youth from diverse backgrounds and affects youths’ social determinants of health in order to determine how schools and communities may best support them.

Meet HDFS doctoral students.

HDFS doctoral degree offered at Oregon State

PhD in Human Development and Family Studies

The PhD program in human development and family studies prepares students for success in research-oriented careers in academic or applied professional settings.

The program emphasizes strong research specialization while maintaining an understanding and appreciation of broader issues and applied problems in human development and family studies.

The dissertation and associated research enable you to develop in-depth knowledge of a specific area of study. You’ll also gain experience in planning, conducting and reporting on an original study.

We offer a master's degree for students enrolled in the Ph.D. program and who have not yet completed a research-based master’s thesis.

Your experience as an HDFS doctoral student

What you'll learn and details about your experience.
HDFS Doctoral Program handbook

Which courses you'll take as an HDFS student.

What your research experience will entail.
HDFS research

Tuition and funding

You can receive funding through research and teaching assistantships, with additional scholarship and fellowship opportunities available.

Assistantships include a monthly stipend, full tuition remission and health insurance per the bargaining agreement with the Coalition of Graduate Employees.

Graduate student funding.

Careers in HDFS

Upon completing graduate study in HDFS, alumni are employed at colleges and universities known for teaching and research, community colleges, public and private research institutes, and federal and state agencies. Some enter private consulting and practice.

Graduates also contribute to program and policy development and analysis for employers such as the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Providence Hospital Medical Center, Oregon Social Learning Center, and divisions of state government such as Oregon Adult and Family Services and Oregon Senior and Disabled Services.

We’re here to help

We’re happy to connect with you by email, phone or virtual meetings.


For questions about the application process and requirements, contact College of Health graduate admissions.


To discuss curriculum and research, contact program director John Geldhof, Ph.D.

Human development and family studies research in action

HDFS research in action

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