Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) - George Mason University

Human Development and Family Science, BA

Understanding the ecological, economic, cultural and family level factors that promote family health and well being for children and families empowers professionals to make a difference in families and family relations.

This degree prepares its graduates to use family-centered and strengths-based approaches to support the health and well-being of individuals and families in diverse communities. Graduates will have a strong interdisciplinary foundation in the HDFS field and competencies in 10 areas as established by the National Council on Family Relations, including:

  • internal dynamics of relationships and families
  • human growth and development
  • family-and community-based program planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • social policies and laws affecting families
  • family diversity
  • research methodology
  • professional ethics as related to the HDFS field

The HDFS curriculum prepares students to effectively engage with families across the lifespan and in a variety of service settings and professions, from early childhood education and care to family law and policy advocacy.

Our program prepares students to critically analyze complex family issues, advocate for families in schools, communities, and in the policy arena, and address social-structural factors contributing to and influencing family functioning, health, and well-being (e.g., poverty and wealth inequality, immigration and illegalization, family homelessness, incarceration, family violence, and discrimination and structural violence such as racism, nationalism, or heterosexism). Students are required to complete a 6-credit internship and integrate research training with service fieldwork. Such an experience is a critical component of HDFS student development and will further prepare our students for graduate education and diverse careers in the human development and family science field.

The HDFS program is a joint academic degree program sponsored by the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS).

Mason Core (40 credits)

  • Written communication (6)
  • Oral communication (3)
  • Information technology and Ethics (3)
  • Quantitative reasoning (3)
  • Literature (3)
  • Arts (3)
  • Western civilization/World History (3)
  • Social and behavioral science (3)
  • Global understanding (3)
  • Natural science (7)
  • Synthesis/Capstone (3)

Additional Requirements for the BA (9-21 credits)

  • One Philosophy (PHIL) or one Religious Studies (RELI) course (3 credit hours)
  • Social and behavioral sciences course (This requirement is additional to the Mason Core social and behavioral sciences requirement) (3 credit hours)
  • Non-Western culture (3 credit hours)
  • Proficiency in a foreign language through the intermediate level (coursework or testing to determine proficiency) (0-12 credit hours)

Major Requirements (30 credits)

Select one from the following: (3 credits)

Major Elective Choices (12 credits)

Elective choices follow career and professional interests. Elective courses are suggested by advisors and mentors and approved by the Academic Program Coordinator. See below for areas of focus.

Families and Individuals Across the Life Span
Family Advocacy
Research and Policy

Electives (17-29 credits)

Students choose additional elective courses.

Total: 120 credits