Human Development and Family Studies

Doctoral Degree Program

Application deadline Dec. 1, 2020

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Our unique Human Development and Family Studies graduate program focuses on the optimal development of individuals and families across the lifespan and in multiple contexts. This focus contributes to the success of our graduates in university teaching, research careers and leadership positions in both the private and public sectors. Our experience in cultivating this focus makes us one of the top programs in the Western United States.

We currently have 33 graduate students in our program. These graduate students are chosen from all over the world. Ours is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students for careers focusing on research and teaching. We offer innovative training in theory, empirical research, and methods for studying individuals, families, and communities. We offer a Master's Degree for students who do not yet have a master’s and who are intent on pursuing the PhD.

Outstanding courses and individual mentoring by graduate faculty prepare students to make original contributions to knowledge and to become leaders in their discipline.





The Ph.D. program in Human Development and Family Studies is designed to prepare students for careers in research, teaching, or applied professional settings. The program emphasizes strong research specialization while maintaining and understanding an appreciation of broader issues and applied problems in Human Development and Family Sciences. The dissertation and associated research play a dual role, enabling the student to develop in-depth knowledge of a specific area of study. At the same time, the student gains experience in planning, conducting, and reporting on a major original study.


Master of Science

We offer a Master's Degree, for students who do not yet have a master’s and who are intent on pursuing the Ph.D.. The MS program provides an opportunity for independent research to be reported in a formal master's thesis and enables students to complete a substantial portion of the Ph.D. coursework.



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.


Research and faculty involvement

Research is interdisciplinary with signature themes in (a) transitions across the life course, (b) risk and resilience across the life span and (c) developmental and family research methods.

Research emphases in child development, adult development and aging, families, rural communities and cross-national comparisons.  

Involvement in federally funded research as well as community and policy initiatives provides opportunities for students to develop and apply new knowledge.


Program links