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Human Development and Family Studies: MS

Human Development and Family Studies

The master’s degree in human development and family studies is designed to provide students with both theoretical and practical knowledge. In the program, students learn research methodology and statistics and have applied practicum experiences. Students are able to choose a specialization where they can gain in-depth expertise in their area of interest. Each specialization focuses on current issues affecting individuals and families, and students gain an education that prepares them for a career in teaching, research, or a variety of agencies serving consumers, individuals, families, and children.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is housed in the College of Education and Human Services, which is in the top 2% of all graduate colleges of education in the nation and is ranked third in total research dollars received.


  • Adolescence and Youth: Students in this specialization study young people in the second decade of life as they interact with their families, peers, the educational system, and related social issues pertaining to achieving maturity in a modern world.
  • Adult Development and Aging: This specialization deals with issues facing young, middle-aged, and older adults as they develop within the context of families, the work environment, institutions, and the larger social structure.
  • Infancy and Childhood: Students in this specialization study birth through the school-age years. Examples of current research opportunities include infant development, attachment, social development and competence, language development, early parent-child interaction, and developmentally appropriate practice.
  • Consumer Sciences: Students study economic interactions of families and consumers with an emphasis on the analysis of household consumption, household financial management, human capital investment, and allocation of time. Theories in economics, finance, sociology, psychology, and quantitative methods are applied to investigate policy questions and decisions made by consumers/households.
  • Marriage and Family Relationships: This specialization is concerned with the study of marital formation, marriage and family interaction, socialization for parenthood, interface of marriage and family with other social structures, family crises, and various forms of marriage and family.
  • Marriage and Family Therapy: Students in this specialization study human development and marital and family relations. Students are provided with basic academic and initial clinical practice requirements for Utah state licensure as marriage and family therapists and for clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.

Recent graduates have found employment as teachers and counselors in the following areas:

  • Public schools
  • Academic departments at colleges and universities
  • Research centers
  • Hospitals
  • Head Start
  • Child care programs
  • Social services agencies
  • Mental health agencies
  • Private and clinical practice settings
  • Extension services
  • Financial institutions and agencies
  • Any related agencies that teach about, study, or serve individuals, families, and consumers

Admission Requirements

It is preferred that applicants have the equivalent of at least a minor in family, consumer, or child studies. However, competent students have been admitted from a variety of backgrounds. We require an upper-division statistics and upper-division research methods course of all incoming graduate students. If a student does not have a family, consumer, or child studies background, they may be required to take prerequisite courses depending on their experience and desired specialization.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE or MAT
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

The department has the following deadline:

  • Fall semester – December 15

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students can receive the MS by pursuing the following option:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.

Financial Assistance

The department has a variety of scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships available for students. The department tries to arrange funding for all first-year students. After the student’s first year, they must find their own funding, but various funding opportunities are still available.

A variety of additional funding opportunities are available, including tuition awards and travel support. Additionally, students may be eligible for subsidized health insurance through qualifying assistantships.

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: AAMFT is the professional association for the field of marriage and family therapy. The association leads the way to increasing understanding, research, and education in the field of marriage and family therapy, and ensuring that the public's needs are met by trained practitioners. The AAMFT provides individuals with the tools and resources they need to succeed as marriage and family therapists.

National Council on Family Relations: NCFR is the oldest, multi-disciplinary, non-partisan professional organization focused solely on family research, practice, and education. It is an association of professionals dedicated to understanding and strengthening families.

Society for Research in Child Development: SRCD is a multidisciplinary, not-for-profit, professional association with a membership of researchers, practitioners, and human development professionals from more than 50 countries. The purposes of SRCD are to promote multidisciplinary research in the field of human development, to foster the exchange of information among scientists and other professionals of various disciplines, and to encourage applications of research findings.

Society for Research on Adolescence: SRA is a rapidly growing, dynamic society focused on the theoretical, empirical, and policy research issues of adolescence. Through its biennial meetings and publishing efforts, SRA promotes the dissemination of research on adolescents and serves as a network and forum for its members. SRA publishes the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

Labs, Centers, Research

Adele and Dale Young Child Development Laboratory: This laboratory provides a variety of programs for children birth to 12 years old. Faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students conduct research to better understand individual development and family relationships across the life span. They use the information gained through research to better aid the development of social competency skills in the children they serve. Each program in the laboratory is designed to provide children with a wide variety of developmentally appropriate divergent activities, a stimulating multisensory environment, and opportunities for discovery and making choices, interpersonal interactions, and independence-promoting situations.

Center for Persons with Disabilities: The CPD is a nationally recognized research center that joins the expertise of researchers and faculty with community partners to address the most difficult challenges facing persons with disabilities and their families. Research addresses issues that cross fields ranging from biomedicine to education. In clinical experiences, learners join teams of professionals, family members, and individuals with disabilities to deliver services and supports.

Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education: This center provides child care for young children of students, staff, and faculty at USU. Students studying early childhood education are able to work with children to provide an emotionally positive, healthy, and nurturing environment, as well as earn academic credit. Students plan developmentally appropriate activities and experiences that enhance each child’s social, emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development.

Early Intervention Research Institute: The EIRI is an interdisciplinary organization committed to investigating and improving policies and practices that support the well-being of at-risk children as well as those with special needs and their families. The institute conducts research as well as provides training and technical assistance at community, state, national, and international levels.

Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic: The Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic is sponsored by the Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. The clinic's dual mission is to provide high-quality, low-cost marital and family therapy services to the public and to provide a training environment for master's degree students majoring in marriage and family therapy. While conducting therapy, the therapists-in-training are under the direct supervision of clinical faculty members who are all licensed marriage and family therapists.



Academic Advising

Elizabeth Fauth
Associate Professor, Graduate Coordinator
Office: FL 222
Phone: (435) 797-1989

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