Human Development & Family Studies, PhD

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development & Family Studies

department head: Ramona Faith Oswald, Interim Dept Head

director of graduate programs:   Brian Ogolsky

department website: 

department faculty:

overview of college admissions & requirements:

overview of grad college admissions & requirements:

college website:

department office: 222 Bevier Hall, 905 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

phone: (217) 333-3790


Graduate Degree Programs in Human Development & Family Studies

Graduate Majors:

Human Development and Family Studies, MS

Human Development and Family Studies, PhD

The HDFS doctoral program prepares students to be researchers, educators, policy developers, or professionals who develop, evaluate, and implement programs for children, families, and communities.

Students who enter the doctoral program without a master’s will complete one as the first part of their doctoral requirements.


Admission is based upon both academic record and the applicant's fit with faculty research programs. We examine grade point average (GPA), Graduate Record Examination (GRE, we will accept MCAT scores for Medical Scholar applicants) scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. International applicants from non-English speaking countries must have an official paper Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 103 on the internet based test. We will not admit anyone with a GPA less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. All applicants are required to submit official GRE scores (MCAT in the case of Medical Scholar applicants) and to have previous coursework in a relevant area of social or behavioral sciences. GRE, MCAT and TOEFL scores should be taken no more than two years prior to application. Our application deadline is December 15 for possible admission the following fall semester. We admit students for fall enrollment only. Please refer to our department website for further information.

Graduate Teaching Experience

We do not require our students to teach but recognize the importance of teacher development for their future marketability. Thus, we make teaching assistantships available and encourage students to pursue a variety of teaching experiences as well as mentorship from experienced instructors. We also encourage our students to utilize the variety of teacher training resources that are available across campus.

Faculty Research Interests

Faculty information is available on our department website at

Centers, Programs, and Institutes

Child Care Resource Service (
Child Development Lab (
Pampered Chef Family Resiliency Program (
Family Resiliency Center (
University of Illinois Extension (

Facilities and Resources

Bevier Hall
Child Development Lab
Doris Kelly Christopher Hall
Early Child Development Lab

Financial Aid

We are committed to funding all of our students who are making timely progress. The duration and amount of our commitment varies by program. Funding may include fellowships, research assistantships, and/or teaching assistantships. These opportunities typically include stipends and tuition waivers. In some cases, fees are also waived. All applicants are automatically considered for all department funding opportunities; there is no separate application process. Federal and state financial aid is completely separate from the support provided by our department. For information regarding federal and state financial aid, please refer to

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development & Family Studies

Those entering the doctoral program without a master's degree will complete one within their first two years in the doctoral program. Students entering with a non-thesis master's will be required to complete a "thesis equivalency" paper within the first two years of their doctoral program. Requirements for the Ph.D. include 64 graduate hours beyond the M.S. degree, completion of the written qualifying examination, defense of the written dissertation proposal, and a final thesis defense upon completion of the dissertation. Doctoral students may also complete a supporting program in "applied HDFS." This 16 graduate hour option includes 4 hours in program development or policy studies, 4 hours in program evaluation, and two 4 hour internships. The applied optional supporting program prepares students to enter careers in administration, human services, social policy, international aid agencies, and government, as well as traditional careers in teaching and research.

For additional details and requirements refer to the department's Graduate Program Information and the Graduate College Handbook 

Theory Courses12
Human Development Theories
Family Theories
Community In American Society
Substantive Courses
Select four of the following:8-16
Social-Emotional Development
Advanced Adolescence
Ethnic Families
Intimate Partner Violence
Family Resiliency
Youth and Family Acculturation
Neighborhoods and Human Dev
Youth, Culture and Society
Gender & Sexuality
Inequalities In A Diverse Society
Ethnography Urban Communities
Child and Family Program Dev
Child & Family Program Eval
Health and Leisure in Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Quantitative Methods12
Advanced Research Methods
Intermed Statistical Analysis
Advanced Statistical Analysis
Qualitative Methods8
Qualitative Methods
Professional Development24
Professional Development
Thesis Research
Elective Courses (required hours depend upon content of M.S. degree)0-16
Total Hours64

Other Requirements

Other requirements may overlap
MS equivalent, or student will earn MS in first two years of PhD program
Qualifying Exam Required Yes
Preliminary Exam Required Yes
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required Yes
Dissertation Deposit Required Yes
Minimum GPA: 2.75