The need for qualified professionals with a degree in human development and family studies or social work is as strong as ever. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the employment of community service managers to grow by 13% between 2018 and 2028 and the employment of social workers to grow by 11% during that same time period. Growth projections for both fields are much faster than the average for other occupations. The BLS further projects the employment of medical and health services managers, which is another possible career path for human development and family studies graduates, to grow by 18% during that time.
Students who are considering an undergraduate degree in human and family studies vs. social work should know that while the study tracks share some commonalities, such as the ability for bachelor’s degree holders to pursue entry-level positions in social work, the overall career paths often diverge. Once these students understand the differences between the two degree programs, they can choose the course of study that best aligns with their passion.
Definitions: Human Development and Family Studies vs. Social Work
Before deciding which degree to pursue, students should take a high-level look at what each program entails and what human development and family studies and social work graduates do.
- Human Development and Family Studies: A program in this area of study, such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies, focuses on the intricacies of the family dynamic and how environmental factors influence the human experience. Typical HDFS coursework includes a variety of focus areas throughout the human lifespan, such as early childhood and adolescent development, family issues, aging, and human relationships.The Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies degree is a multidisciplinary degree that covers a broader scope than a bachelor’s in social work does. Students who choose this study track often want to work with and help people without necessarily going to graduate school. This degree is commonly beneficial to professionals who are working in child care or child development, although it can also be a valuable next step for coaches, people who work with the aging population, and those who have an interest in community planning and organization.HDFS degree holders can pursue a variety of career paths, such as child care director, preschool director, and community service manager. They may also pursue entry-level positions in social work.
- Social Work: Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) programs lay the groundwork for graduate studies in social work or counseling. The typical BSW coursework emphasizes topics such as social justice, advocacy, self-care, emotional literacy, and emerging trends in social work.This field-specific degree often includes state-regulated training. Although BSW graduates may also pursue entry-level careers in social work, advanced positions, such as substance abuse counselor and behavioral health counselor, require an advanced degree and, in some cases, professional certification.
Similarities in Human Development and Family Studies vs. Social Work
Those considering a career in human development and family studies or a career in social work will find these fields have many similarities. For example, both are largely focused on helping individuals, families, and communities improve their lives. They also can prepare bachelor’s degree holders to pursue entry-level social work positions in case management, community social work, and residential care. HDFS and BSW graduates can also work in a variety of settings, including schools, child care centers, nonprofit organizations, and in-home/virtual care environments.
The annual earning potential for bachelor’s degree holders is also similar. For example, March 2020 data from PayScale indicates that Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies graduates earn a median salary of $51,000 per year, whereas BSW graduates earn a median salary of $49,000 per year.
Differences in Human Development and Family Studies vs. Social Work
When looking at human development and family studies vs. social work, the primary difference is that Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies graduates can pursue a variety of career paths, such as child care or preschool director, patient advocate or navigator, community service manager, medical and health services manager, and youth counselor.
Although HDFS and BSW programs share similarities, BSW programs are designed to prepare students for graduate studies in social work or counseling. Sample BSW career opportunities include general or healthcare social worker, behavioral management aide, probation officer, case manager or case worker, correctional treatment specialist, and mental health and substance abuse social worker. Consequently, BSW programs are often favored by students who want to pursue licensing and certification in the field of counseling.
Are you ready to take the first step toward a career that allows you to help others? Discover more about Maryville’s online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies and online Bachelor of Social Work today.
American Counseling Association
International Federation of Social Workers, Global Definition of Social Work
Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies
Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Social Work
PayScale, Bachelor of Arts (BA), Human Development & Family Studies Degree
PayScale, Bachelor of Social Work (BSW/BSocW Degree)
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Careers in Social Work, Outlook, Pay and More
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers Job Outlook
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers Job Outlook
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Workers Job Outlook