HDFS students work with children

Part of the HDFS mission is to prepare students to work in a wide variety of settings and with a broad range of individuals and families. Regardless of specialization area, the curriculum is designed to provide students with foundational knowledge about child, adolescent, and/or adult development as well as the interpersonal connections that bring meaning to family life.

This broad approach prepares students for careers in nonprofit agencies, schools, hospitals, human services organizations, and community centers. While some students pursue a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Social Work, Education, or Guidance Counseling, others begin their careers by working in the community.

In addition to the list of possible careers in HDFS provided below, you can click on the booklet to the right information about careers from the National Council on Family Relations. It explains different careers in HDFS, includes career profiles of working professionals, and illustrates ways to capitalize on your college experiences (e.g., coursework, volunteer experiences, internships, study abroad experiences) to forge a career path in the field.

Careers in Family Science

Published by National Council on Family Relations


Human Development & Family Studies

Career Express
Career Drop-in Hours

Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays 1-3 pm
Hewitt 222

No Appointment Necessary


Career Opportunities for graduates with a Bachelor's degree

  • Employee Assistance Specialist
  • Consumer Protection Agencies
  • Food Assistance Programs
  • Family Business Consultant
  • Family Financial Counseling & Planning

  • Youth Development Programs
  • Adoption Agencies
  • Foster Care Programs
  • Family Preservation Worker
  • Teen Pregnancy Counselor

  • Child Care Centers
  • Head Start Programs
  • Montessori Schools
  • Child Development Consultant

  • Public School Teaching in Family & Consumer Sciences (Certification)
  • Family Life Educator
  • Sexuality Educator
  • Parent Educators
  • Children's Museum Education

  • Case Manager
  • Victim & Witness Support Services
  • Crisis & Hotline Services
  • Divorce Mediation
  • Drug & Alcohol Prevention Counselors

  • Family Policy Analyst
  • Cooperative Extension Specialist
  • Military Family Support Services
  • Advocate/Lobbyist on Behalf of Children, Women, & Family Services

  • Public Health Programs & Services
  • Hospital Family Support Professionals
  • Prenatal and Maternity Services
  • Hospice Programs

  • International Family Policy Analyst
  • Peace Corps and NGO Leadership
  • International Human Rights Advocacy
  • Immigration & Migrant Families Service

  • Grant Proposal Writing
  • Academic and Government-Related Research in Family Science Content Areas
  • Population Studies & Demographic Research
  • Community-Based Research for Non-Profit Family Agencies

  • Curriculum & Resource Development in Family Life Education
  • Public Service Radio and TV Programming
  • Newspaper & Magazine Journalism on Social Issues Affecting Children and Families

Career Opportunities for graduates with a Master's degree


  • Youth-serving organizations like 4-H
  • Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Faith-based groups
  • Community recreation facilities
  • Correctional professions
  • Elementary, middle and high school educators
  • Extension educators

HDFS M.S. graduates provide small and large businesses with expertise in communication, listening skills, problem solving and group dynamics. Graduates can design and manage employee support programs, marketing and customer service.  Potential career opportunities in the business environment are:

  •  Market Research
  •  Consumer Research
  •  Advocate/Policy Analyst
  •  Family Policy Analyst
  •  Program Analyst for Child & Adolescent Health

M.S. graduates interested in education can use their knowledge of human development to direct and lead educational organizations at all levels. Graduates also play a lead role in child & adolescent development agencies.  Potential career opportunities in education are:

  •  Education Program Specialist
  •  Donor Relations Officer
  •  Early Child Interventionist
  •  4-H Youth Program Educator
  •  Children's Program Manager
  •  Infant Parent Support Specialist
  •  Family Resource Coordinator
  •  Head Start Director
  •  Executive Director of a Children's Museum
  •  Consultant

If you have a medical background, your HDFS degree will enhance your expertise in human development and families.  M.S. HDFS graduates with a medical background have many options for health-related careers.  Potential career opportunities in the health field are:

  •  Administrator of a Home Health Aide Agency
  •  Patient Services Manager
  •  Patient Safety Analyst
  •  Health Care Analyst
  •  Pediatric Rehabilitation
  •  Cancer Information Specialist
  •  Coordinator Corporate Health Program
  •  Public Health Administrator

M.S. HDFS graduates with strong statistical backgrounds have the option of many good jobs in research, and it is often possible to find a position providing support for a research project. Entry-level positions require a bachelors or master’s degree but professional-level jobs typically require a PhD. Analysts work for local, state & federal government agencies or advocacy organizations. Potential career opportunities in research are:

  •  Market Research
  •  Consumer Research
  •  Advocate/Policy Analyst
  •  Family Policy Analyst
  •  Program Analyst for Child & Adolescent Health

HDFS M.S. graduates interested in careers that involve human services, support and advocacy work have a variety of options.  Graduates' knowledge of human development programs and policy, coupled with planning and coordination skills, help our graduates succeed in leadership positions in a variety of organizations including government agencies and non-profit organizations.  HDFS M.S. Graduates work in the areas of mental health, youth centers, DCYF - Foster Care, health advocates and domestic violence.  Some positions may include advocating for social change. Potential career opportunities in Social and Human Support / Advocacy are:

  • Substance Abuse Recovery Center Administrator
  • Abuse Prevention Specialist
  • Shelter Supervisor
  • Senior Program Coordinator for CASA
  • Military Services
  • Childcare Director
  • Foster Care Coordinator
  • Adoption Agency Director
  • Case Manager
  • Child Advocate
  • Development Office
  • Director of a Center or Facility
  • Social Change Advocate
  • Outreach Coordinator
  • Manager, Family Education & Support Services

Outpatient Care Facilities: MFT's are hired to treat children, adolescents, adults and seniors battling substance abuse and mental illness. 

Inpatient Care Facilities and Hospitals: MFT's are hired to work as inpatient therapists at healthcare facilities and hospitals.

Schools:  MFT's work at all levels of a school system, including working directly with students to counsel students and   parents together.

Legal and Correctional Facilities: MFT's assist families and couples in legal crisis and work with legal authorities and correctional systems.

Employee Assistance Programs: MFT's are hired to give short-term counseling, as well as refer employees and their family members to additional services, if needed.

MFT's working internationally or for humanitarian organizations usually work with for profit and non-profit agencies such as the Red Cross or Peace Corps, and in various support leadership positions that address the therapeutic needs of individuals, couples and families.

A MFT may set up a private practice to serve individuals, couples and families.  A therapist may specialize in a particular area, like adult depression, couples or sex therapy.

While working for social service agencies and businesses, MFT graduates may engage in a number of research activities including:  conducting interviews, facilitating focus groups, or creating a valid, reliable survey. 

MFT's also engage in needs assessments and evaluations of therapeutic care programs.

If you enjoy statistical analysis, you may want to consider going on to receive a Ph.D.