Bachelor's in Human Development and Family Studies

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Online Bachelor's in Human Development and Family Studies

Study the relationships and experiences that shape children and families

Every person has a unique story. Every family has a unique dynamic. Our lived experiences shape how we grow, think, feel, and form relationships throughout our lives. So when it comes to helping people navigate life’s intricacies and challenges, your approach should be as distinctive as the individuals you serve.

That’s why Maryville University designed a program that takes a comprehensive and realistic view of human nature. Our online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies degree explores the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of people and families across the lifespan — and in the context of the greater world.

You already have the drive and desire to change lives. With one brave decision, you can earn the degree to match your passion.

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Apply with no fee and no SAT/ACT required

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Explore financial aid and transfer credit friendly admission

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Access coursework 100% online

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Benefit from a curriculum that follows the 10 content areas of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)

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Learn from industry professionals and experienced practitioners

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Get field-ready with immersive coursework and service-learning opportunities

Why earn your Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies online?

Flexibility. Community. Collaboration. Maryville’s online programs put exceptional education right at your fingertips, literally. Our online bachelor’s in human development and family studies is no exception ― offering you an opportunity to earn your degree around your schedule and your life.

This versatile undergraduate program focuses on the intricacies of family dynamics and the human experience ― as well as the environments and influences that shape them. Study with us and you can:

  • Learn how people develop physically, emotionally, and socially within the context of the family and society.
  • Explore the relationship between individuals, families, and social establishments: educational, governmental, religious, healthcare, and occupational institutions.
  • Discover how family members develop and maintain interpersonal relationships.
  • Understand the physiological, psychological, and social aspects of sexual development from childhood through adulthood.
  • Gain the skills to critically examine ethical questions in professional practice.
  • Examine policies and law that influence the well-being of families and individuals.

Flexible, affordable, and highly personalized.


Study on your schedule with 100% online coursework, and apply with no fees or entrance exams.


Benefit from transfer credit friendly admission and explore financial aid options.


Choose a track that aligns with your passion: Early Childhood Development, Youth Development, Family Life Education, or Adult Development and Aging.


Put theory into practice through service learning opportunities, advocacy projects, field work, and an immersive senior research project.


Join a virtual community that connects you to passionate professionals and experts in the field of human development and family studies.


Study the unique needs of children and prepare for professional certification in an optional Child Life Specialist concentration.

What can you do with your online bachelor’s in human development and family studies?

Shifting societal trends continue to increase the need for caring, attentive professionals with a keen understanding of child and family development. Parents are working longer hours. Household structures are more diverse. Social issues are becoming increasingly complex and far-reaching. That means rewarding career opportunities are growing as fast as the culture evolves.

What types of careers can you pursue?

Maryville’s human development and family studies graduates are prime candidates for a wide variety of careers. Why? Because human development and family studies students have more than a deep understanding of individual and family dynamics. They have specialized training in communication, group processes, and program development. It’s the kind of foundation that can prepare you for career growth, graduate studies, and professional assessment and certification.

Put your bachelor’s in human development to work in a variety of settings:

  • Schools and childcare centers
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Assisted living facilities and nursing homes
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Youth organizations and after-school care
  • Direct service and nonclinical settings
  • Treatment centers and shelters
  • Government agencies
  • In-home and virtual care environments

Pursue dynamic career paths:

  • Certified child life specialist*
  • Certified family life educator*
  • Childcare or preschool director
  • Mental health or behavioral counselor*
  • Patient advocate/navigator
  • Substance abuse counselor*
  • Community service manager
  • Medical and health services manager
  • Youth counselor/worker

*Note that some professions associated with human development and family studies require further education or certification.

Take steps toward professional certification.

Our human development and family studies program curriculum is structured to align with standards set by the National Council on Family Relations, Child Development Council, Child and Youth Care Certification Board, and the Association of Child Life Professionals. When you earn your bachelor’s in human development and family studies, you can build a base of knowledge to help you prepare for future certification assessments, such as:

  • Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS)
  • Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE)

What’s the outlook for graduates with a degree in human development and family studies?

Modern society is ever-evolving. The elderly population is rising. Family structures are shifting. Dual-earner and single-parent families are the norm, rather than the exception. The number of children in daycare and youth programs continues to grow. Far too many individuals and families suffer the effects of serious social issues: child abuse, drug addiction, poverty, and discrimination, just to name a few.

The number of trained professionals with the skills to address these issues falls far short of the need. You can change that. Earn your degree in human development and family studies online and put your passion to work in a way that helps those you serve.

human development professional talking with a patient

Discover great opportunities.

There’s a consistent, growing need for qualified human development and family studies professionals to serve the population. It’s more than a career path. It’s a calling that offers competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and the kind of job satisfaction that can only come from putting your natural talents and passion to work.

While salaries for human development graduates vary based on factors like location, education, licensure, and experience level, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following median pay for careers in the field:

  • Preschool and childcare center directors: $47,940
  • Social workers: $49,470
  • Community health workers: $46,080
  • Social and community service managers: $65,320
  • Medical and health services managers: $99,730

Prepare for a rewarding career.

You want to make a difference in the world ― and feel good about your accomplishments. Few majors give you that chance like human development and family studies. Whether you’re new to the field or ready to advance through experience, licensure, and education, you stand to make a lasting impact on the lives of those you serve.

Why choose Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies?

You’re driven to make a difference, and we’re driven to make that possible. Our bachelor’s in human development and family studies program is designed to help you build a sense of community with your colleagues. Through coursework, projects, and other interactive opportunities, you’ll connect and interact with classmates, professors, advisors, and support staff.

Why Maryville?

Align your practice with your passion.

Human development and family studies is a generalist major that serves a broad population. To help you maximize your effectiveness in the field, we offer five ways you can tailor your education to your goals. These include one optional 30-credit concentration and four developmental tracks (nine credits) ― each one designed to help you enhance your skills in a particular area.

  • Child Life Specialist (concentration)
  • Early Childhood Development (developmental track)
  • Youth Development (developmental track)
  • Family Life Education (developmental track)
  • Adult Development and Aging (developmental track)

Join a supportive online community.

Choose Maryville for your online bachelor’s in human development and family studies and benefit from a program rooted in connection and collaboration. You’ll get the support you need every step of the way ― from application through graduation and beyond.

  • Get student support services to help guide you through your educational journey
  • Receive 24/7 technical assistance from our Help Desk
  • Connect with your professors during virtual office hours

Get in the field ― and get more experience.

People and families are more varied and dynamic than textbooks describe. That means theoretical knowledge, while incredibly important, will only get you so far. True learning comes from doing. That’s why our bachelor’s in human development and family studies earned online immerses you in real-world exercises and hands-on advocacy projects to help you put theory into practice.

Make our reputation work for you.

Maryville University was founded in 1872 and has been helping brave, motivated professionals launch or enhance their careers with industry expertise ever since. Ninety percent of our full-time faculty holds a doctorate or terminal degree, and our online bachelor’s in human development and family studies program is taught by experienced practitioners and certified professionals.

We’re recognized for excellence. So you can be, too.

Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
Forbes America's Top Colleges 2019 Badge
Kiplinger Best College Values 2019 Badge
Money Best Colleges 2019 Badge

When you earn your online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies from Maryville, you graduate from a highly ranked and respected university. We’re proud of our reputation for quality academics, accelerated growth, and affordability, because it demonstrates our commitment to you.

Bachelor of Human Development and Family Studies faculty spotlight

Angie Walston

Angie Walston, M.S., CFLE

Instructor, Human Development and Family Studies

Meet Angie Walston. She’s a Certified Family Life Educator with more than a decade of experience working with children and families — and she’s excited to share her knowledge with you.

“I’m passionate about child development, proactive parenting strategies, and healthy family patterns. My goal is to facilitate a deeper compassion toward children and their unique perspectives on the world.”

Angie brings an impressive academic background and experience in real-world practice to her classroom. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from Texas Christian University and an M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Texas.

She’s worked with adoptive families and contributed to attachment research at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. She also worked as a family life educator at the Parenting Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and served as a weekly parenting expert for CBS 11 ― a local news outlet in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Before joining Maryville University, Angie held teaching roles at at Texas Christian University, University of North Texas, and Concordia University-Nebraska.

Online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies curriculum

Your online coursework focuses on everything from child guidance and parenting to family issues and aging. The curriculum explores trends and topics like early childhood and adolescent development, human relationships, diverse society, psychology, and sociology. It’s also closely aligned to standards for the National Council of Family Relations, Child Development Council, Child and Youth Care Certification Board, and the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Build a solid, practical foundation.

Our program combines core coursework specific to human development and family studies with a number of electives that let you tailor your degree to your interests. The program comprises 128 credit hours, including a total of 75 degree credits in addition to your general education requirements.

Earn an optional Child Life Specialist concentration.

Learn to address children’s unique needs and challenges in this optional concentration. Study areas like infant and toddler development, child psychology, developmental play and learning, anatomy and physiology, and counseling skills. You can also prepare to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS).

Choose an area of focus.

In addition to the Child Life Specialist concentration, our program allows you to build and develop your skills in a specific area of human development and family studies. You can choose from four tracks:

Early Childhood Development

Study the cognitive, emotional, social, and language development of young children within the context of family and community. Discover how to apply general and early education practices to develop learning programs.

Youth Development

Build the skills to promote positive development in children and adolescents from diverse backgrounds. Prepare to work in non-school settings, such as community centers, nonprofit organizations, after-school programs, and the juvenile justice system.

Family Life Education

Champion healthy family development and teach effective communication, parenting, interpersonal, and coping skills to individuals, couples, families, and caregivers. You’ll have the opportunity to prepare to become a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) with coursework designed to meet National Council on Family Relations requirements.

Adult Development and Aging

Explore the social, emotional, and family-based factors that impact the ways individuals enter adulthood. Gain the knowledge and skills to deliver practical aid and develop care programs for people as they experience midlife and old age.

Benefit from immersive projects and fieldwork.

Service learning and practical experience are essential elements of your human development and family studies major. That’s why your courses include hands-on learning opportunities through activities like simulations and advocacy projects. You’ll also have the opportunity to complete fieldwork or a senior research project. This type of immersive learning lets you experience what it’s like to serve real people, families, and communities.

Take your education further.

Your bachelor’s in human development and family studies does more than prepare you to work with children, youth, adults, and families in various social settings. It also puts you in a position to pursue a master’s degree ― which can help you advance into higher roles. With an undergraduate foundation in human development and family studies, you can explore graduate-level studies in areas such as:

  • Social work
  • School counseling
  • Psychology
  • Human development
  • Health policy and law

Learn more about the online Human Development and Family Studies at Maryville University.