Skip to main content

Human Development and Family Studies: MHDFS, PhD

Human Development and Family Studies

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.


The master of human development and family studies (MHDFS) is designed to prepare professionals to provide cutting-edge education and services to individuals and families. Students receive advanced training in individual development and family processes, examining the interplay between them within the larger contexts of social institutions and policies. The MFHD is a practice-oriented, non-thesis degree especially suitable for individuals already working in family or social service sectors, education, and corrections who are seeking employment in fields where greater understanding of individual development and family process would be an asset.


The PhD is for students wishing to pursue careers in the academic realm of human development and family studies. The program allows students to pursue research in current issues affecting families and human development.

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.

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 MHDFS by pursuing the following option:

  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Assistance

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 funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Scot Allgood, PhD, Brigham Young University
Area: Rituals in marriage and families; Therapy interventions; Healthy relationships
Office: FL 203 B
Phone: (435) 797-1551

Ann Austin, PhD, Iowa State University
Professor, Director- Center for Women and Gender
Area: Child development and care; Girls’ and women’s leader identity development; Early mathematics; Child programs in developing countries
Office: FL 127
Phone: 435-797-1527

Troy Beckert, PhD, Arizona State University
Area: Psychosocial development in adolescence; Family and contextual influences on adolescent development
Office: FL 221
Phone: (435) 797-1570

Lisa Boyce, PhD, Utah State University
Assistant Professor, Executive Director - Dolores Dore Eccles Center for Early Care and Education
Area: Early language development; Dual language learners; Executive functioning; Program evaluation; Early childhood professional development; Early intervention
Office: ECERC 316
Phone: (435) 797-2713

Kay Bradford, PhD, Brigham Young University
Area: Couple and relationship education; Parenting and community education; Emerging adult and adolescent relationships
Office: FCHDW 108
Phone: (435) 797-5454

Travis Dorsch, PhD, Purdue University
Assistant Professor
Area: Youth sport influence on family relationships and interaction; Evidence-based parent education in competitive sports;
Office: FL 111
Phone: (435) 797-4565

Aryn Dotterer, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Parent-child relationships and educational outcomes. Identity development in African American science students
Office: FL 217
Phone: (435) 797-2387

Elizabeth Fauth, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Associate Professor, Graduate Coordinator
Area: Dementia caregiver stress and intervention; Quality of life for persons with dementia; Psychosocial influence on late-life disability and function
Office: FL 222
Phone: (435) 797-1989

Brian Higginbotham, PhD, Auburn University
Professor, Associate Vice President for Extension
Area: Healthy relationships over the course of life; Factors influencing remarriage quality; Stepfamily functioning; Program evaluation
Office: FCHDW 105
Phone: (435) 797-7276

David Law, PhD, Brigham Young University
Area: Parenting practices and the development of the child’s attachment; Self-regulation; Marriage and family therapy; Health-care utilization
Office: USU Uintah Basin campus
Phone: (435) 722-1716

Yoon Lee, PhD, University of Missouri – Colombia
Associate Professor
Area: Economics of aging; Aging and retirement; Health and financial well-being; Gender differences in savings and investments; Intergenerational finance transfer; Family-owned businesses
Office: FL 308C
Phone: (435) 797-1555

Shelley Lindauer, PhD, Oregon State University
Professor, CEHS Associate Dean
Area: Kindergarten transition; Early childhood curriculum models; Early childhood teacher preparation; Parenting
Office: FL 106A
Phone: (435) 797-1532

Yin Liu, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University
Assistant Professor, Gerontology Certificate Coordinator
Area: Daily stress, health and well-being in dementia caregivers and in women with childhood abuse; Statistical models; Stress biomarkers
Office: FL 215
Phone: (435) 797-4149

Diana Meter, PhD, The University of Arizona
Assistant Professor
Area: Individual, interpersonal, peer group, family, and school effects on child and adolescent peer relations
Office: FL 105
Phone: (435) 797-4141

David Robinson, PhD, Brigham Young University
Professor, Director-Marriage and Family Therapy Program
Area: Medical family therapy; Collaborative healthcare; Human sexuality/sex therapy; Qualitative research; Community-based participatory research/rural health
Office: FLC 104
Phone: 435-797-7431

Lori Roggman, PhD, University of Texas
Area: Early social-emotional, language, and cognitive development; Parenting behaviors; Practitioner support of parents
Office: FL 129
Phone: (435) 797-1545

David Schramm, PhD, Auburn University
Assistant Professor; Family Life Extension Specialist
Area: Strengthening couple and family relationships; Promoting strengths and personal well-being
Office: FCHDW 104
Phone: (435) 797-8183

Ryan Seedall, PhD, Michigan State University
Assistant Professor
Area: Improving relationship process; Improving MFT intervention efforts; Enhancing protective couple and family dynamics
Office: FLC 201
Phone: 435-797-7433

Susan Talley, PhD, University of Toledo
Associate Professor
Area: Pre-adolescents, prosocial behavior, attachment behavioral systems, socially constructed behavior, evaluation, culture, identity and diversity, school configuration
Office: USU Ephraim Education Center (Snow College)
Phone: (435) 283-7419

Shawn Whiteman, PhD, Penn State University
Associate Professor
Area: Family relationship processes; Sibling relationships; Adolescent health; Sibling influences on adolescents’ substance use
Office: FCHDW 106
Phone: (435) 797-9184

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

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.

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.



Academic Advising

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

Submit Edits/Updates for this degree