Major in Life

When you understand the human experience, you help us all grow stronger.


Top-Ranked Program

OSU has the #5 Human Development and Family Sciences program in U.S.


Nearly 100%

of students participate in internships and service learning


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Learn why our differences are our greatest strengths


She thinks about students of all ages, especially the youngest.

Professor Shannon Lipscomb is in the classroom and out in the world, working to make it better. Her research team includes experienced investigators and undergraduate students. Together they examine ways to help our youngest children stay safe at home and thrive at school. In one project, researchers are helping teachers and child care providers encourage resilience in preschool children who have experienced trauma. The work is hard, and important. Everyone learns from each other.

About the Degree

We help others. When you understand how individuals and families are influenced, you can help make a community better.  

Students in the human development and family sciences program work with peers and faculty to explore the human lifespan, from early childhood to end of life, and all the phases in between. You’ll examine challenges facing contemporary families and communities – from parenting, poverty, religion, race, social class and sexuality to interpersonal communications.

It’s a journey of self-discovery, and one that gives you tools to help individuals and families live better lives. That’s because whether you focus on the general, early childhood or human services option, you’ll study a variety of disciplines — psychology, biology, sociology, genetics, education, anthropology, public health and social policy — that give you a broad understanding of what it means to be human.

You will have an impact.

By the time you’re ready to graduate, you’ll be prepared for a career or graduate study in education, early intervention, prevention science, psychology, counseling, social work, social service, or public health and public health policy.

Undergraduate Degree Offered

Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences

HDFS majors select at least one specialty option to complete their major requirements:

Early Childhood Option

The Early Childhood option prepares students to promote lifelong development, learning, and wellbeing of children and families. Through a focus on the early childhood period from prenatal through age 8 years, students examine dynamics among children, families, schools, communities, and cultures that have lasting impacts throughout life.

General HDFS Option

The general option enables you to take an interdisciplinary approach to families and human development across the lifespan within the contexts of school, work and communities.

Human Services Option

The Human Services profession is dedicated to improving the human condition by intervening during crises, preventing future crises, helping people access resources and advocating for change in the systems that affect the lives of those in need.

Degree Requirements


A minor in human development and family sciences can enhance your major field of study and career path — and give you an added advantage. Choose from these options. Learn more.

  • Early childhood development and education
  • Human development and family sciences


Real Experience

Nothing brings your classroom studies to life better than an internship, practicum or research experience. With expert faculty researchers, and relationships with more than 60 nonprofit organizations and agencies in the community and around the state, we help you find right-fit experiences where you’ll make meaningful contributions and grow professionally.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

Human Services Field and Nonprofits: Our communities need people who understand the needs of others, and can help them lead successful lives. You’ll find HDFS graduates working in state and county agencies that help those in need, and leading nonprofit organizations that fill gaps where others can’t.

Teaching: HDFS students make natural teachers, and many of our alumni have been accepted into the OSU-Cascades graduate teaching program and now teach in elementary, middle and high schools.

Counseling: Many HDFS graduates have gone on to the OSU-Cascades graduate counseling program and embarked on careers as clinical counselors or school counselors.


Alumna Spotlight

Connecting Families

OSU-Cascades alumna Jessica Mose works to connect foster children with extended family members. When a child finds a family member they can gain a sense of identity and belonging. Jessica is out there, seeking the one caring adult who will support a kid through life – and she's making a lasting impact on Central Oregon children.

Learn More

Sample Courses

  Contemporary Families in the U.S.
Human Sexuality
Infant and Child Development
Families and Poverty
General Psychology
Adolescent Development
Applied Research Methods
Family Violence and Neglect
Introduction to Sociology
Principles of Statistics
Adult Development and Aging
Technical Writing

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Contact Us

We're here to help! Future students can connect with an OSU-Cascades admissions advisor for admission and program questions.