Human Development and Family Studies

Susan Koerner
222 Bevier Hall
905 South Goodwin Ave.
Urbana IL 61801
PH: (217) 333-3790

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engages in teaching, research, and outreach to improve the lives of children, youth, and adults in the contexts of families, communities, and societies. The department creates an environment where these efforts are enriched by a multicultural perspective. HDFS faculty recognize the diversity of cultures and classes in American society, and this perspective prepares students to address contemporary social issues.

Teaching: Our faculty regularly earn campus and national awards for outstanding teaching. Our teaching assistants who provide support to students outside of the classroom and in small discussion sections routinely are rated as among the best TAs on campus. In recent years, Drs. Jennifer Hardesty and Ramona Oswald earned national awards for teaching excellence. Lyndal Khaw, a graduate student, earned a campus award for teaching.

Study Abroad: There are many opportunities for our students to study abroad. We sponsor two short programs in South Africa and Brazil where our students get experience with learning the culture and understanding the needs of children and families in poverty. Currently, about 30% of our students have participated in study abroad sometime during their four years, and more are participating every year.

Undergraduate Research Experience: About 50% of our undergraduate students go on to graduate school. During their undergraduate program, they have many opportunities to work with graduate students and faculty on important scientific questions about children and families. Close to 50% of our undergraduate students participate in at least one research opportunity.

Undergraduate Program: Our program in Human Development and Family Studies prepares students for careers working with children, adolescents, and families. Students have the opportunity to work with children, families, and professionals in the Child Development Laboratory, the Child Care Resource Service, the Family Resiliency CenterThe Autism Program, and numerous social service, child assistance, and family social service agencies. This hands-on experience complements classroom instruction.

Graduate Program: This program prepares students for careers in higher education, social service administration, and public policy settings. Our students are involved in significant research activities and have the opportunity to participate in outreach work that translates research to practice. We have advanced research facilities for studying children in our Child Development Laboratory. We have a unique family observation research facility at the Family Resiliency Center that allows for intricate study of family interactions in a home-like atmosphere. There is support for students in terms of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and fellowships. Our students complete their programs with many awards, publications, and other important achievements.

Research: Our faculty are among the top scientists studying children and families in the world. They focus on significant societal issues. Our work could be described as “science with a social conscience.” Faculty are interested in the most challenging basic scientific issues, but they are always asking how this information can be applied or how they can make a difference.

Preparation of Advanced Methods in Unique Laboratory Facilities: Faculty and students are engaged in developing and mastering the most sophisticated quantitative and qualitative methods available to social and behavioral scientists and to practicing these skills in state-of-the-art laboratories.

Collaborative and Collegial Interactions: Professor Isabel Bevier, a pioneering scientist in 1900, noted that the wide-open Illinois prairie provided “no boundaries,” and this characterized the faculty’s intellectual orientation as well. Our faculty work across disciplines, programs, and methodologies, and they work with colleagues across settings, departments, and institutions.

Faculty with Major Scientific Leadership Roles: Our faculty are not only excellent researchers and scholars, but they are also leaders in the scientific community. They are recognized by their peers for awards and hold elective office. They are invited to give lectures at major national meetings and at universities across the world. They serve as editors of the major journals in the field.

Outreach and Extension: Our faculty are not content just to find out more about children and families; they want to improve their lives. We have a long tradition of creating unique educational resources and programs for helping families. For the past fifteen years, our faculty have been especially interested in creating web-based educational resources. Dr. Aaron Ebata has been at the forefront of educating parents online with the latest version being Parenting 24/7. Parents who are interested in managing work and life issues more effectively can gain information from Intentional Harmony.

In addition to these online educational programs, our Department was one of the pioneers in providing information and resources to parents about child care. From the humble beginnings of a telephone and desk in the hallway staffed by a part-time person, the Child Care Resource Service today is one of the national leaders in innovative methods of providing resource and referral services to families.

Similarly, The Autism Program provides information, consultation, and training for families who have children with autism, as well as for professionals who serve these families.

Another long-time feature of the department is working with Family Life Extension Educators across Illinois who are adept at providing community-based educational programs to fit the specialized needs of family members. These educators have developed unique skills for reaching underserved rural and urban families who often would not have the opportunity to learn about children and families. 

Human Development and Family Studies, B.S.

The Human Development and Family Studies program prepares students for graduate/professional education or employment in areas such as pediatric services in hospitals, medicine and allied health fields, marriage and family therapy, family law, human resources, child care services, family life education, social work, counseling, human services, and business activities related to children and families. Students select course work according to their interests in human development, such as infancy, early childhood or adolescence, or family studies, such as the marital relationship, parent-child interaction, family change or conflict and conflict management in the family. Basic courses in these areas are linked to practical experiences in educational and community settings, and most courses emphasize issues related to cultural diversity and gender. Students select one of two concentrations within this major: Child and Adolescent Development or Family Studies. Completion of the Family Studies option may qualify some graduates for provisional certification as a Family Life Educator by the National Council on Family Relations. Additional information is available at the NCFR website.

Prescribed Courses including Campus General Education

Composition I and Speech
Select one of the following:6-7
Writing and Research
and Public Speaking (or equivalent) (see college Composition I requirement)
Oral & Written Comm I
and Oral & Written Comm II
Advanced Composition
Select from campus approved list.3-4
Language Other Than English
Coursework at or above the third level is required for gradudation.
Cultural Studies
Select one course from Western culture, one from non-Western culture, and one from U.S. minority culture from campus approved lists.9
Quantitative Reasoning I
Select one of the following:3-4
STAT 100Statistics3
ACE 261Applied Statistical Methods4
CPSC 241Intro to Applied Statistics3
ECON 202Economic Statistics I3
PSYC 235Intro to Statistics3
SOC 280Intro to Social Statistics4
Quantitative Reasoning II
Select one of the following:3-5
STAT 200Statistical Analysis3
CHLH 244Health Statistics3
MATH 220Calculus5
MATH 221Calculus I4
MATH 234Calculus for Business I4
PHIL 103Logic and Reasoning QR II3
Natural Sciences and Technology
Select from campus approved list.6
Humanities and the Arts
Select from campus approved list.6
Social and Behavioral Sciences
PSYC 100Intro Psych4
SOC 100Introduction to Sociology4
Select one of the following:3-4
Agr Cons and Resource Econ
Microeconomic Principles
Macroeconomic Principles
ACES Required
ACES 101Contemporary Issues in ACES2
Human Development and Family Studies Required
HDFS 101Issues & Careers in HDFS1
HDFS 105Intro to Human Development3
HDFS 120Intro to Family Studies3
HDFS 220Families in Global Perspective3
HDFS 290Intro to Research Methods4
ACE 161Microcomputer Applications3
ACE 240Personal Financial Planning3
FSHN 120Contemporary Nutrition3
or CHLH 100 Contemporary Health
Select one of the following:3
Child Fam with Special Needs
Asian Families in America
Gender, Relationshps & Society
Asian American Youth
HDFS Study Abroad Experience
US Latina and Latino Families
LGBT Indiv, Fam & Community
Select one of the following:3-6
Early Childhood Curriculum Dev
Self-Help Group Dev & Process
Research Internship
Practicum in HDFS
Applied Research Methods
Required Concentration16-18
See specific requirements for each concentration listed below.
Additional courses must be completed to yield a total of 126 hours for graduation.
Total Hours126

Approved Concentrations:

Minor in Adult Development

The Adult Development minor combines theoretical and practical approaches to understanding issues faced by adults as individuals, partners, family members, learners, caregivers, and clients of social agencies. Course work examines adults from age 25 to 90+ in the contexts of evolving family roles, health issues, and social service needs. Students anticipating careers in social or health-related services will find an understanding of adult development and its attendant issues a valuable compliment to other professional skills.

The minor requires a minimum of 18 hours. At least six hours of advanced course work must be distinct from credit earned for the student's major or another minor. Courses in the minor cannot be taken Credit/No Credit. Students may count three hours earned in a community-based practicum or research project related to adult development toward the minor.

Foundation courses9
Intro to Human Development
Adult Development 1
One course selected from:
Adult Learning and Development
The Psychology of Aging
Adult roles in the family context3-4
Close Relationships
Family Stress and Change
Family Conflict Management
Adult choices/challenges6
Research Internship 2
Practicum in HDFS 2
Applied Research Methods 2
Physical Activity & Aging
Leisure and Human Development
Death & Dying
Social Work Services for Older Adults
Total Hours18-19

HDFS Class Schedule


HDFS 101   Issues & Careers in HDFS   credit: 1 Hour.

Introduction to career opportunities related to human development and family studies, academic and other preparation for different fields, and emerging issues for practitioners and researchers.

HDFS 105   Intro to Human Development   credit: 3 Hours.

Systematic overview of the psychological, biological, familial, and cultural factors related to human growth and development across the life span.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Social & Beh Sci - Beh Sci

HDFS 120   Intro to Family Studies   credit: 3 Hours.

Overview of current concepts, theories, and substantive issues in family studies from an interdisciplinary perspective. Gives attention to variation in family form and function across different social/cultural contexts and how family experience is structured by gender. Examines issues of family development (marriage, parenting, divorce, remarriage, aging family) and explores the links between families and other social institutions.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Social & Beh Sci - Soc Sci

HDFS 140   Intro Gender & Women's Studies   credit: 3 Hours.

Same as GWS 100 and SOC 130. See GWS 100.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Social & Beh Sci - Soc Sci

HDFS 143   Biology of Human Behavior   credit: 3 Hours.

Same as ANTH 143. See ANTH 143.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Nat Sci & Tech - Life Sciences

HDFS 199   Undergraduate Open Seminar   credit: 1 to 5 Hours.

Experimental course on a special topic in human development and family studies. Approved for both letter and S/U grading. May be repeated in the same or subsequent terms as topics vary.

HDFS 206   Early Childhood Curriculum Dev   credit: 4 Hours.

Introduces development of curriculum for children from birth to age five; integrates child development theory and principles with programming for young children in preschool and childcare setting. Prerequisite: HDFS 105.

HDFS 208   Child Fam with Special Needs   credit: 3 Hours.

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. Designed for students studying child development, early childhood education, special education, social work, nursing and other disciplines involved with children who have special needs and their families. Recommended for students preparing for internships and careers as Child Life Specialists. Prerequisite: HDFS 105.

HDFS 220   Families in Global Perspective   credit: 3 Hours.

Explores economic, political, cultural and social factors affecting families in different countries; examines variations among families in developed and developing nations and their historical, political and cultural contexts. Same as ANTH 210.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Cultural Studies - Non-West
Social & Beh Sci - Soc Sci

HDFS 221   Asian Families in America   credit: 3 Hours.

Same as AAS 297 and SOCW 297. See SOCW 297.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Social & Beh Sci - Soc Sci
Cultural Studies - US Minority

HDFS 225   Close Relationships   credit: 3 Hours.

Initiation, development, and dissolution of committed relationships with same- or opposite-sex partners within familial, cultural, and societal contexts. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Social & Beh Sci - Soc Sci

HDFS 259   Motor Development and Control   credit: 3 Hours.

Same as KIN 259. See KIN 259.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Social & Beh Sci - Beh Sci

HDFS 261   Self-Help Group Dev & Process   credit: 3 Hours.

Defines nature and use of self-help groups in different contexts. Includes role of professionals in group formation and maintenance and develops group planning and management skills. Includes practice in group formation and visits to working groups in the community.

HDFS 262   Motor Develop, Growth & Form   credit: 3 Hours.

Same as KIN 262. See KIN 262.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Social & Beh Sci - Beh Sci

HDFS 263   Diversity in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism   credit: 3 Hours.

Same as KIN 230 and RST 230. See RST 230.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Cultural Studies - US Minority

HDFS 290   Intro to Research Methods   credit: 4 Hours.

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. Prerequisite: HDFS 105.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Advanced Composition

HDFS 291   HDFS Career Planning & Preparation   credit: 1 Hour.

Overview of job opportunities, graduate, and professional school programs that prepare students for careers in health care, counseling, social work, higher education, policymaking and other fields related to Human Development and Family Studies. Examines types of jobs, graduate and professional opportunities and the preparation they require. Students develop personal job, graduate/professional school preparation plans. Approved for S/U grading only.

HDFS 293   Off-Campus Internship   credit: 1 or 2 Hours.

Supervised, off-campus experience in a field directly pertaining to subject matter in Human Development and Family Studies. Intended primarily for students seeking supervised internship experience needed for certification as a Child Life Specialist. Approved for Letter and S/U grading. May be repeated in separate terms to a maximum of 4 hours. Credit is not given for more than a total of 12 hours of Independent Study (IND) courses applying to a degree in ACES. Prerequisite: Prior or concurrent enrollment in HDFS 408 and consent of instructor.

HDFS 294   Research Internship   credit: 1 to 4 Hours.

Students work one-on-one or in a small group with a faculty member engaged in research. Students must arrange this research experience with a professor prior to registering for the course. A list of possible research projects can be found at: Once you have found a project that interests you, email the professor and ask to participate in his or her research opportunity. Approved for Letter and S/U grading. May be repeated in the same or separate terms to a maximum of 12 hours. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor; not open to students on probation.

HDFS 295   Independent Study or Research   credit: 1 to 4 Hours.

Individual research, special problems, thesis, development and/or design work under the supervision of an appropriate member of the faculty. May be repeated in the same or separate terms to a maximum of 12 hours. Credit is not given for more than a total of 12 hours of Independent Study (IND) courses applying to a degree in ACES.

HDFS 301   Infancy & Early Childhood   credit: 4 Hours.

Reviews development during the first five years of life, including cognitive, social, and biological aspects of early development; includes first-hand observation of young children to supplement and extend lecture material. Prerequisite: HDFS 105 or PSYC 216.

HDFS 305   Middle Childhood   credit: 3 Hours.

Systematic overview of the normative changes that occur in the physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and moral domains during the middle childhood period as well as current social issues that confront many of today's children (such as school violence or poverty). Prerequisite: HDFS 105.

HDFS 310   Adult Development   credit: 3 Hours.

Focuses on adult development as a means for understanding the quality of family relationships and community functioning. Uses current theoretical approaches to understand adult development and evaluate each approach's usefulness for adults in the contexts of family, health, work, leisure and challenges over the life course. Prerequisite: HDFS 105 or equivalent.

HDFS 322   US Latina and Latino Families   credit: 3 Hours.

Explores a variety of topics and provides a basic overview of issues relevant to the understanding of Latina/Latino families and children in the United States. Examines recent demographic changes in the U.S. population and their implications for the socialization and education of Latina/Latino children and their families. Course content looks at such areas as who are Latina/Latino families; how are those families different from others; what are the similarities and differences within Latinas/Latinos; how does acculturation and language fit into our understanding of these families; and what are the implications for the education success of current and future Latina/Latino children. Same as LLS 322.
This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for:
Cultural Studies - US Minority

HDFS 340   Gender, Relationshps & Society   credit: 3 Hours.

Explores the production of gender through social interaction within families and other specific interpersonal and institutional relationships that change over time. Gender is also linked to race, class, ability, and sexuality. Same as GWS 340 and SOC 322. Prerequisite: HDFS 105 or SOC 100.

HDFS 379   HDFS Study Abroad Experience   credit: 1 to 4 Hours.

International experience in areas related to human development and family studies involving foreign travel and study without enrollment in another institution. Experience must be planned and approved in advance via consultation with an HDFS faculty member. May be repeated in separate terms to a maximum of 8 hours if topics vary.

HDFS 396   Honors Research or Thesis   credit: 1 to 4 Hours.

Individual research, special problems, thesis, development and/or design work under the direction of the Honors advisor. May be repeated in the same or subsequent terms. Prerequisite: Junior standing, admission to the ACES Honors Program.

HDFS 398   Undergraduate Seminar   credit: 1 to 3 Hours.

Special topics in a field of study directly pertaining to subject matter in human development and family studies. May be repeated in the same or subsequent terms to a maximum of 12 hours as topics vary. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

HDFS 401   Socialization and Development   credit: 4 Hours.

Presents and uses theories of socialization to evaluate and analyze current issues and socialization practices; delineates historical and philosophical trends in socialization, and discusses the implications of these trends for generating social policy affecting the developing individual. 4 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HDFS 301 and HDFS 290.

HDFS 405   Adolescent Development   credit: 3 Hours.

Examines paths of experience and individual development within the family, the peer group, and other domains through this socially-defined stage of life. 3 undergraduate hours. 3 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HDFS 105 and PSYC 100.

HDFS 406   Child Dev Class Supervision   credit: 5 Hours.

Examines the relationships between child development theories and developmentally appropriate and individualized instruction techniques, discipline and guidance strategies, and the role of the family in child development programs. Emphasizes program supervision. Includes direct experience with children and families in a laboratory setting. 5 undergraduate hours. 5 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HDFS 206, HDFS 220, and junior standing.

HDFS 408   Hospitalized Children   credit: 3 or 4 Hours.

Examines the developmental needs and stress reactions of children and families in a hospital/medical setting; examines responses of family and staff facing terminal illness and the death of a family member; familiarizes students with general hospital procedures, medical terms, and illnesses; introduces the role of Child Life programs and the Child Life Specialist. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HDFS 105 or consent of instructor.

HDFS 420   Inequality, Public Policy, and U.S. Families   credit: 3 or 4 Hours.

Examines influence of economic, demographic and social changes on families in the U.S. and on the opportunities of individual family members. Explores interactions of social class, poverty, race and gender and their effects on family life and on child and adolescent development. Includes critical analysis of health care, employment, immigration, family leave, welfare and other social policy options that affect family life and well-being. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HDFS 120.

HDFS 425   Family Stress and Change   credit: 4 Hours.

Applies family theories (e.g. family systems, family stress, multigenerational developmental perspectives) to understand how families change and adapt to stress across time and diverse contexts. Attention is given to assessing intergenerational family dynamics and working with individuals and families to reduce negative patterns. 4 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HDFS 120 and HDFS 290.

HDFS 426   Family Conflict Management   credit: 3 or 4 Hours.

Examines processes of conflict management in family and community disputes; emphasizes negotiation and mediation as modes of dispute settlement. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HDFS 120.

HDFS 427   Family Adaptation & Resilience   credit: 3 Hours.

Examines complex factors, including culture, economy, and values conflicts, that challenge families and the range of adaptive strategies that families deploy amid various challenges and stressors. Activities include developing a research or action proposal related to developing family resiliency. 3 undergraduate hours. 3 graduate hours. Credit is not given for both HDFS 427 and HDFS 527. Prerequisite: HDFS 425 or consent of instructor.

HDFS 444   LGBT Indiv, Fam & Community   credit: 3 or 4 Hours.

Examines contemporary sexual and gender minority experiences in the context of societal inequality. Of particular interest to students pursuing educational, human service, legal, and/or health profession careers. Same as CHLH 444. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: SOC 100 or an introductory course on gender issues.

HDFS 450   Practicum in HDFS   credit: 1 to 12 Hours.

Supervised on- or off-campus learning experience related to human development or family studies, supervised in cooperation with an appropriate agency or institution. Not available to students on probation. 1 to 12 undergraduate hours. 1 to 12 graduate hours. May be repeated for up to 12 hours in separate semesters. Only 6 hours of the course may be applied to the total required for a graduate or undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies. Prerequisite: Human Development and Family Studies major; junior standing.

HDFS 461   Family Life Education   credit: 3 Hours.

Examines the theory and practice of designing family life education programs for children, youth, and/or families. Introduces strategies for translating science-based information into learning experiences. Family life education topics such as parenting (including managing difficult children and children with special needs), relationships (dating, marriage), family transitions (becoming new parents, divorce, & stepfamilies), and health and well-being (obesity, stress) will be reviewed. Principles of effective program design will be explored along with online program delivery skills. 3 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. Credit is not given for both HDFS 461 and HDFS 561. Prerequisite: HDFS 120 or consent of instructor.

HDFS 494   Applied Research Methods   credit: 1 to 4 Hours.

Participation in faculty-supervised research as a member of a transdisiplinary team investigating questions related to the health and well-being of children and families. Students propose their own research questions and present findings developed from data gathered by the team. 1 to 4 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. May be repeated to a maximum of 6 hours in the same term or to a maximum of 12 hours in separate terms. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

HDFS 499   Seminar   credit: 1 to 4 Hours.

Special topics in human development, family studies, or community development. 1 to 4 undergraduate hours. 1 to 4 graduate hours. May be repeated in the same or subsequent terms to a maximum of 12 hours as topics vary.