Human Development and Family Sciences (B.S.)

Why Study Human Development and Family Sciences at NIU?

As a human development and family sciences major, you'll investigate how human development and family systems influence each other within the context of culture and society. You'll have several opportunities to apply your classroom knowledge to real-world settings.

When you complete your degree, you'll be ready for graduate school or to serve families and individuals in a variety of settings, including:

  • Child care programs
  • Social services
  • Mental health, juvenile justice and other human service systems

You can choose between three emphases. You can also add an interdisciplinary minor in gerontology.

Emphasis 1: Family Relations, Prevention and Wellness

This emphasis focuses on general human development and research. It provides career enhancement if you have prior work experience with individuals and/or families. It will also prepare you to pursue an advanced degree in a related field.

Emphasis 2: Family Social Services

This emphasis will train you for a career in social services. It will prepare you to work in family service, juvenile justice, mental health and community welfare agencies. You'll also be ready for graduate study in marriage and family therapy, family and child studies, aging services or social work.

Emphasis 3: Child Development

This emphasis will prepare you to serve infants, toddlers and young children, as well as their parents, in home, school and community-based settings. You'll be ready for a career or graduate study focused on areas such as early intervention, early childhood education and leadership/advocacy roles.

Careers with a Human Development and Family Sciences Degree

You'll have many career options with a degree in human development and family sciences. Our alumni find jobs working with children, adults, seniors and families in a variety of areas, such as health care and social services.

You'll have the opportunity to train for a career with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services or a related agency, thanks to our partnership with the organization. You can also prepare to obtain the following certifications:

  • Certified Family Life Educator (through the National Council on Family Relations)
  • Early child related Gateways credentials (through the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies)
  • Certified Child Life Specialist (through the Association of Child Life Professionals)

Human Development and Family Sciences Faculty

Our Human Development and Family Sciences includes professors and instructors passionate not only about teaching but about research as well.

Hands-on Learning Opportunities

As a human development and family sciences major, you'll have many opportunities to apply the knowledge you acquire in the classroom in a professional setting. You can participate in a semester-long internship or practicum experience. You can also get involved with our award-winning Child Development and Family Center and Couple and Family Therapy Clinic. 

Student Organizations

NIU offers many student organizations you can join to enhance your experience, including:

  • The NIU Student Council on Family Relations
  • The Northern Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children
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