Graduate Degree Programs

HDFS graduate studentsHDFS provides cutting-edge graduate education in an inclusive, supportive, and interdisciplinary environment. The expertise of our award-winning faculty spans the areas of child development, couple and family therapy, and diversity, youth, and family development. Faculty and students generate new knowledge that plays a meaningful role in the lives of children, adolescents, families, and marginalized communities. Graduates are prepared for academic and professional positions and are in high demand following graduation.

The Department offers the following graduate degrees:

Doctoral Degree

HDFS offers a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies. Ph.D. students specialize in one of the following concentrations: Child DevelopmentCouple and Family Therapy, or Diversity, Youth, and Family Development (DYAD). Students may enter the Ph.D. program with or without a master’s degree for the Child Development and Diversity, Youth, and Family Development (DYAD). Those entering the PhD program with or without a master’s degree complete the same number of course credits and research requirements. However, those entering without a master's degree may be required to take one or two background courses as part of their electives, and are strongly encouraged to complete a thesis-like project or paper within their first two years to build skills in independent research.

A PhD in HDFS at MSU prepares students to meet the following learning goals: 

  1. Theory. Use foundational and contemporary theoretical frameworks, relevant to the study of individuals and families in context, to explain developmental and / or change processes. 
  2. Empirical Knowledge. Construct (organize, make sense of) and critically evaluate the body of empirical knowledge for a field/ topic of study to identify gaps and justify new directions. 
  3. Research Methods. Critically analyze and make sound methodological decisions, implement a research study and defend choices. 
  4. Dissemination of Scholarly Work.  Demonstrate effective written and oral communication to disseminate information to  a scholarly audience, integrating theory, empirical knowledge, and research methods as appropriate.
  5. Teaching. Demonstrate effective teaching, including instructional design and implementation. 
  6. Translation of Science to Transform Lives. Use HDFS theory and research to address real-world problems in practice, programming, or policy. 
  7. Ethics. Demonstrate ethical behavior in all aspects of scholarship and articulate understanding of ethical issues in research. 
  8. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Articulate an understanding of positionality, and describe approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion relevant to research, teaching, practice, and policy. 

Master’s Degrees

HDFS graduate students We offer both research (Plan A) and professional (Plan B) master’s degrees, including an M.S. in Child Development, research or professional focus and M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, research or professional focus. Research degrees are designed for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D., and professional degrees are for students who plan to seek a professional position following the completion of their degree.

Online Graduate Degrees and Certificates

HDFS offers two online master’s degrees through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA) Consortium, including an M.A. in Youth Development and M.A. in Family and Community Services. We also offer graduate certificates in Youth Development Specialist, Youth Development Management and Evaluation, and Human Services Administration.