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Degree Fall Enrollment Spring Enrollment Summer Enrollment
Ph.D. – all concentrations Dec 1 - Dec 1
M.S. Plan A (research track) in Child Development or Human Development and Family Studies Dec 1 - Dec 1
M.S. Plan B (professional track) in Child Development or Human Development and Family Studies  Feb 1 Oct 1 Feb 1
Online Master’s Degrees and Graduate Certificates June 1 Oct 1 Feb 1

Applying to a graduate program in HDFS is a three-step process:

1. Submit a Graduate School Application

  • Complete the MSU application online (preferred) or mail a hard copy
  • On the form, indicate your intended field of study:
    • 7692: Doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies
    • 7693: Youth Program Management and Evaluation-Graduate Certificate
    • 7694: Youth Development Specialist-Graduate Certificate
    • 7645: Youth Development-MA
    • 7722: Family Community Services-MA
    • 7691: Human Development and Family Studies-MS
    • 7702: Child Development-MS
  • References - Within the MSU portal system, indicate your recommenders 
    • In your MSU application, you need to identify your recommenders and provide their contact information. Your list of recommenders will be sent an email from the University that provides them instructions on how to upload their reference letter into your portal. Ask them to complete the form and write a letter assessing your ability to successfully complete the graduate program. Reference letters sent directly to the department from an applicant or a recommender will not be included in an application. All applications should include at least one academic reference. Please ask former professors, work supervisors, or others who can best assess your academic experience and potential. Family members and friends are not appropriate recommenders. 

2. Submit a Department Application

  • Complete the Department Application Form which includes your academic statement and your personal statement.
  • All applicants must clearly indicate the faculty member(s) from whom they wish to receive research mentorship.
  • Ph.D. applicants must clearly indicate the desired concentration area of study (i.e., Child Development, Couple and Family Therapy, or Lifespan Human Development and Family Diversity)

3. Submit Additional Required Materials

  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae that includes the following:
    • Employment history
    • Education, degrees
    • Honors and leadership
    • Student organizations, professional organizations, and honor societies
    • Honors, special awards, research and other creative work
    • Other material related to your professional background and experience
  • Test Scores
    • The three-part Graduate Record Examination (GRE) “General Test” scores taken within the last 5 years must be submitted if you are applying: (1) to the Ph.D. program, (2) to the Master’s Plan A (research track) program, or (3) as an international student. You do not need to submit GRE scores if you are a U.S. resident applying to the Master’s Plan B (professional track) program. International applicants must submit GRE scores for the Plan A and Plan B Master’s Program. Send the GRE scores directly to the University. The code for Michigan State University is 1465.
    • Applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) taken within the last 2 years. The code for Michigan State University is 1465.
  • Transcripts
    • Request one official transcript from each college or university you have attended and have them mailed directly to:

      Michigan State University
      Graduate Admissions
      426 Auditorium Road, Room 250
      East Lansing, MI  48824-2604

Please upload all documents to the on-line Department application form, which includes the personal and academic statements, resume/curriculum vitae, and transcripts.

If you have any problems uploading documents to the application form or this site please send an e-mail to Phillip Reid

Application Review Criteria:
Once an application is complete, each application will be reviewed using the following criteria: 

  • Prior educational and professional achievements
  • Societal impact of academic and career goals as stated in the academic and personal statements
  • Fit with program goals and research interests of faculty in the department
  • Alignment with a faculty advisor who is available to mentor the candidate

For questions or additional information about the admissions process, please contact:

  • Dr. Claire Vallotton ( for the PhD in Human Development and Family Studies or the Master’s Degree (Child Development or Human Development and Family Studies)
  • Dr. Yuya Kiuchi ( for the Master’s Degree programs in Youth Development and Community and Family Services and the Certificate programs for Youth Development.

Early Childhood Education-General and Special Education Endorsement (ZS)

While the Early Childhood Education-General and Special Education Endorsement (ZS) is not a graduate degree program, it is a post-baccalaureate program that often leads to a graduate degree. As part of the Department’s mission to support continuing education for students, we offer the Early Childhood Education-General and Special Education Endorsement for returning teachers. ZS students do not complete a graduate degree application, but would complete the ZS application. The ZS advisor is Laurie Linscott and she can be reached at or 517-355-1900.