HDFS Doctoral Degree Program

Human Development and Family Studies

Doctoral Degree Program

A healthy life, their whole life

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Dig deep into 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.

Connect HDFS 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.

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 

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.

Meet HDFS faculty members.

Human development and family studies research in action

HDFS research

The Family Policy Group actively conducts research on a range of family policy topics such as child care, child welfare, parenting education, family processes and work-family fit.

Meet the team and learn more about their research.

Ines de Pierola

Ines de Pierola
HDFS PhD student

Ines has been selected to be part of the 2024 cohort of doctoral research scholars at the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis.

“I chose Oregon State to pursue my PhD in HDFS due to its strong research focus across disciplines. The HDFS program provides an environment that fosters collaboration with numerous faculty members and fellow students. Currently, I am researching the financial outcomes of paid leave programs for families.”

Meet HDFS doctoral students

What to expect as an HDFS doctoral student

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

Our 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 PhD program and who have not yet completed a research-based master’s thesis.

PhD program handbooks

What you'll learn and details about your experience.

Program handbook

HDFS Doctoral Program courses

Which courses you'll take as an HDFS student.


HDFS Doctoral Program professional development

How you’ll develop professional skills.

Professional opportunities

HDFS Doctoral Program research

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.

Learn more about graduate student funding.

Estimated costs

The HDFS PhD program is a 108-credit program that can be completed within 4-5 years on a full-time credit load (except for summer).

The estimated costs for the program are broken down as follows:

Resident costs for years 1-3

$15,795 per year

Resident Tuition ($13,446)
+ Fees ($2,349)

Each additional year after 3

$6,832 per year

Resident Tuition ($4,482)
+ Fees ($2,349)

Non-resident costs for years 1-3

$31,698 per year

Non-resident Tuition ($29,349)
+ Fees ($2,349)

Each additional year after 3

$12,132 per year

Non-resident Tuition ($9,783)
+ Fees ($2,349)

Tuition and fees estimates were calculated using the 23-24 academic year tuition and fees tables in combination with the tuition calculator. Please note, tuition and fees can change for the 24-25 academic year.

Career opportunities with a PhD 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 graduates 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


For questions about the application process and requirements, contact COH graduate admissions.


To discuss curriculum and research, contact Program Director John Geldhof, PhD.