Top of Page
Skip main navigation

Curriculum

The Human Development and Family Studies major provides students with an interdisciplinary program of study that fosters critical, independent thinking and an empirical framework for understanding the development of individuals and families across the lifespan. It identifies factors that influence cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development through infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and later adulthood in the contexts of family, culture, and society. The major provides a foundation for students interested in working with individuals in varied settings, ranging from public and nonprofit agencies, to business and governmental agencies and for students preparing for graduate education in the social, behavioral, and health sciences or for advanced professional training in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, social work, law, business, public administration, or the health professions.

Learning Outcomes

A successful human development and family studies graduate is expected to:

  1. Explain the major theories, principles, and concepts that comprise the knowledge base of life-span development and family studies, in the following areas:
    • Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging.
    • Family systems and relationships.
    • Research methodology and analysis.
  2. Integrate and apply the major theories, principles, and concepts of human development and family studies to evaluate research and applied issues in the field using critical thinking skills, skeptical inquiry, and deductive scientific reasoning;
  3. Generate written information on topics in human development and family studies in a clear and concise manner consistent with the professional standards of the discipline.

Curriculum Requirements

General Education Requirements (30 credits)

Students are required to complete 30 credit hours as part of the General Education Program.

Human Development and Family Studies Major Requirements (45 credits)

GERO 2000 - Introduction to Gerontology (3 credits) OR PSYC 2390 - Adulthood and Aging (3 credits)

GERO 2000 - Introduction to Gerontology (3 credits)

This course explores the demography of aging and its implications for society, social structure, work and retirement, health care and housing, and the effects of an aging society on public policy. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or PSYC 1020H. 

PSYC 2390 - Adulthood and Aging (3 credits)

Developmental experiences of maturity. Physiological and psychological aspects of aging. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or 1020H. 

HDFS 3000 - Research Methods in Human Development and Family Studies (3 credits)

Introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods used to study human development and families. Provides experience conducting observations and survey interviews, evaluating research results, and writing research reports. Prerequisites: SOCL 2130 and PSYC 2350. 

HDFS 4880 - Senior Seminar in Human Development and Family Studies (3 credits)

Students will have the opportunity to integrate information from a variety of perspectives in human development and family studies. Each seminar will have a focal theme that will allow students to gain new perspectives, as well as apply knowledge from prior courses and experiences. This course is presented as a capstone experience; therefore students with advanced standing in the HDFS major will benefit the most from the seminar. Prerequisite: HDFS 3000. 

PSYC 1020 - Introduction to Psychology (3 credits) OR PSYC 1020H - Introduction to Psychology Honors (3 credits)

PSYC 1020 - Introduction to Psychology (3 credits)

An introduction to theory, research, and applications in the field of psychology. Topics include biological bases of behavior, perception, learning and memory, psychological development, personality, social psychology, and the identification and treatment of mental illness. 

PSYC 1020H - Introduction to Psychology Honors (3 credits)

An introduction to theory, research, and applications in the field of psychology. Topics include biological bases of behavior, perception, learning and memory, psychological development, personality, social psychology, and the identification and treatment of mental illness. Prerequisite: Honors students only.

PSYC 2350 - Lifespan Human Development (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide the student with an understanding of systematic changes within the individual from conception through death. Unlike many studies of development, this course is structured around issues of development rather than examination of development from a chronological perspective. This structure will allow the student to more completely grasp life-span issues. Family, social roles, lifestyle, psychological disorders, mental abilities, and death and dying will be examined. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or PSYC 1020H.

PSYC 2360 - Adolescent Psychology (3 credits)

This course will provide an overview of the principles, theories, and research pertaining to the development of the adolescent. Topics include physical, emotional, social, intellectual, moral, and personality development, as well as the importance of the home, school, and community. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or 1020H. 

PSYC 2370 - Early Childhood Growth and Development (3 credits)

Students in this course will critically examine theories and research concerning the cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development of the typical and atypical child from birth to age eight. Emphasis will be placed on the ability to observe and describe child behavior and to understand the principles and processes that govern growth and development in the early childhood years. Implications of knowledge of child development for parental behavior, professional practices, and social policy will also be considered. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or 1020H. 

PSYC 2630 - Ethical and Professional Developments (3 credits)

This course examines ethical issues faced by mental health professionals today. Conflicts among personal, legal, and professional demands will be explored in depth. This course will also focus on how mental health professionals are challenged by and learn to manage ethical dilemmas around such issues as self-disclosure, harm reduction, dual relationships, and limits of confidentiality. 

SOCL 2130 - Family Relationships (3 credits)

Contemporary patterns of marriage and family living. Approaches to effective living together in family units. Covers both adult and parent-child relationships. Emphasis on communication, supportiveness, and contingency management.

SOCL 3800 - Family Life Cycle (3 credits)

A study of family functioning over the life span of the family. Various issues such as culture, class, race, and gender will be covered and how these impact family functioning. Emphasizes marriage, divorce, remarriage, death, and other major determinants of family operation. Prerequisite: SOCL 2130. 

Select 3 credits from the following courses:

HDFS 4800 - Community Practicum in Human Development and Family Studies (3 credits)

Supervised experiences in established career-related positions at a community agency; focus selected on basis of professional interest (some sites may require a background check). Prerequisite: SOCL 2130, PSYC 2630, and PSYC 2350.

HDFS 4990 - Independent Study in Human Development and Family Studies (3 credits) 

Select 12 credits from the following courses, 9 credits of which must be at the 3000/4000 level:

GERO 2030 - Gerontology and the Law (3 credits)

This course covers an overview of critical legal issues affecting the elderly. Topics will include the following: guardianship practice and procedure, alternatives to guardianships, such as durable powers of attorney, trusts, and health care surrogates; government benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and end of life decision making. Regulations and laws designed to protect the elderly against abuse and fraud are also covered. Prerequisite: GERO 2000. 

HDFS 3200 - Child Welfare, Law, and Social Policy (3 credits)

This class will acquaint students with various areas in which public policies and laws affect children and families, and in which developmental/family research and practice are germane to legal policy (and case law); the methods through which empirical research findings may influence case law and legislation (amicus curiae and policy briefs); and, the relationship between the fields of family studies/social science, policy, and law, and how this knowledge can affect study design/dissemination and clinical/practical work. Key areas of focus will include: relevant prevention vs. intervention approaches to promoting child/family welfare and mental health; and, family violence prevention and intervention efforts. Prerequisite: SOCL 2130. 

HDFS 3400 - Legal Aspects of the Family (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with a general overview of the most important aspects of family law. Topics covered include the regulation of marriage, separation and divorce, alimony, child custody and support, adoption, parental authority and children?s rights, abortion, and the impact of technology on families. Prerequisite: SOCL 2130.

HDFS 3500 - Children with Special Needs (3 credits)

Multi-disciplinary approach to the study of issues related to exceptional children and their families. Explores social, emotional, and economic aspects of exceptionality for both children and families; examines processes of identification, intervention, and integration of children who deviate significantly from developmental norms. Prerequisite: PSYC 2350. 

HDFS 4900 - Special Topics in Human Development and Family Studies (3 credits)

A critical look at one or more contemporary issues in human development and family studies. Prerequisites: PSYC 2350 and SOCL 2130. 

PSYC 2470 - Loss, Grief, and Bereavement (3 credits)

This course addresses the issues of loss accompanying the death of a loved one and the handling of grief for people of all ages. Sensitizes students to their own feelings about death, describes the rites of passage, and identifies methods of resolution for grief. This course will be beneficial to individuals in their own lives, as well as those who will be involved in counseling. Prerequisite: PSYC 1020 or 1020H.

PSYC 3280 - Child and Adolescent Psychopathology (3 credits)

This course will review prevalence, etiology, diagnostic criteria, co-morbidity, sampling patterns and outcome across the major childhood and adolescent behavioral disorders. Prerequisite: PSYC 2350 or PSYC 2370 or PSYC 2380.

The academic program and curriculum requirements listed on this page are from the NSU Undergraduate Student Catalog. Students are bound by policies and curricula published in the catalog in effect the semester they enter the university, unless an agreement is made with appropriate NSU administration officials allowing them to abide by policies published in a later catalog.

View sample 4-Year Academic Plan

Return to top of page