Best Online Bachelor’s in Human & Family Development Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor'sin Human & Family Development2017
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A bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies explores human growth from birth through old age. By analyzing these topics, you’ll gain an understanding of the psychosocial, emotional, and cognitive processes across the human lifespan, along with insight into the complex interplay of societal and cultural expectations within the family. Whether in the context of classroom teaching, healthcare delivery, social work, or other forms of community service, rigorous training allows professionals to provide the most effective assistance to individuals and families who need it.

There’s never been a better time to enter this field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 10% increase in social and community services management positions through 2024, a boost in part due to an aging Baby Boomer population (with age comes a need for more services). This boom is also in part due to a demand for social services connected with a growing substance addiction problem in the United States. This guide details what you can expect from a bachelor’s degree program in human development and family studies, including a breakdown of study concentrations and curricula. It culminates in a discussion of program graduate career options.

The study of human and family development is multidisciplinary, involving the social, biological, and behavioral sciences. A typical online degree in human and family development curriculum begins with a small set of core courses that build a foundation for service to children, adolescents, adults, and families. Through these courses, you can expect to learn about the developmental processes of individuals and families, human sexuality, interpersonal behavior, and parenthood across the human lifespan. Core program classes also focus on career-specific skills such as research-based inquiry, program planning and evaluation, professional communications, and human services administration.

In many online degree in human and family development programs, learners customize their studies through a specialty concentration. In this case, the bulk of your upper-division coursework will be within your concentration and concentrations may be organized to focus on specific age groups, such as elder care or early childhood. Concentrations may also be geared toward specific services, such as counseling or social work. Alternatively, an institution may design its available concentrations to mesh with a professional degree in law or medicine. The best online bachelor’s in family development programs take full advantage of a university’s resources, offering numerous specialty paths to a degree.

Degree plan customization doesn’t always end with a concentration. Often, online bachelor’s in human development programs include a field component that aligns with your concentration. Typical placements include schools, social services agencies, retirement facilities, hospitals, or behavioral health facilities. Some programs offer a thesis option in lieu of a practicum, which could be ideal for the student planning to pursue a professional graduate degree. Some programs lead to teaching licensure and some do not. In turn, it’s wise to choose accordingly if you plan to teach. Finally, some programs further prepare you for the workforce by embedding professional certifications within their curriculum.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus 68.13 4/5 86% University Park, PA

Pennsylvania State is a pioneer in distance learning; the school developed its first correspondence courses in 1892. Online education is offered through the school's Penn State World Campus. Courses are asynchronous.

Students can earn an online bachelor's in human development and family studies, with a life span human services or life span developmental science option. Students often go on to pursue human development and family studies jobs at preschools, daycares, mental health care centers for children, nursing homes, and other family care facilities. Learners are required to earn at least 120 credits. A grade of "C” or better must be earned in all classes. Students must complete a 480-hour field experience at a human services center in their community. Credits earned from an associate degree in human development and family studies can be applied towards the bachelor's. Some faculty may require students to earn credits on-campus.

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2 Oregon State University 66.00 3/5 61% Corvallis, OR

Oregon State offers more than 1,000 courses in more than 100 subjects of study online through Ecampus. OSU's Ecampus courses are developed by its faculty and delivered asynchronously. Online students are charged resident rates.

Through the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, students can complete a degree in human development and family studies online. The degree emphasizes the development of critical thinking and communication skills, preparing students for careers in fields related to social justice. Students can complement their bachelor's degree with an online minor in subjects like psychology, sociology, and leadership. The Ecampus has a generous transfer credit program. Transfer students must take at least 45 of the last 75 credits for this degree through OSU. Distance learners must earn 180 credits to complete the degree. Course topics include human sexuality, human nutrition, families and poverty, and psychology.

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3 The University of Alabama 64.25 4/5 67% Tuscaloosa, AL

Alabama has one of the top online human and family development programs in the country. Students who earn a BS in human environmental sciences, human development & family studies develop the skills needed to further their careers as child services practitioners in the Head Start program. The program focuses on the growth and development of children, from birth to eight-years old. This degree is only open to students who already work in a Head Start program. Students who don't meet this requirement may be interested in UA's early childhood education concentration instead.

Online applicants who graduated from high school within the past four-years must have at least a 3.0 high school GPA to apply. Applicants who graduated from high school more than four-years before their application date need a 2.5 GPA. UA's affordable online tuition is the same for residents and nonresidents.

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4 Colorado State University-Fort Collins 62.88 3/5 63% Fort Collins, CO

CSU's online human development and family studies degree offers students a customized degree plan. The program offers five concentrations to choose from: early childhood professions, leadership and entrepreneurial professions, pre-health professions, prevention and intervention sciences, and human development and family studies. Students specialize in one, or two of these concentrations. Concentration coursework consists of 15 credits. Students also have the option to minor in gerontology. With a minor in gerontology, students acquire a thorough understanding of the aging process. The program requires students to earn 120 credits. Students with prior college credit can check what courses will transfer through Transferology. Courses include individual and family development, couple and family studies, and general psychology. Students must complete a supervised field study experience. Online students are invited to graduation lunch and the graduation ceremony each spring. Graduates are prepared for careers in social services, law enforcement, and community outreach.

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5 University of Arizona 61.50 3/5 61% Tucson, AZ

North Dakota State, located in Fargo, serves more than 14,000 students across the state. Students can choose from 35 fully online and blended undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs through NDSU's Distance and Continuing Education program.

Students seeking a degree in human development and family studies online are drawn to NDSU's flexible program. The BS in human development and family science is offered fully online, aside from a required field experience component. Students choose from three program tracks: adult development and aging, child and adolescent development, and family science. Full-time students can complete the program in about four-years. By taking courses during the summer the degree can be earned sooner. NDSU's transfer policy requires online transfer students to complete at least 36 credits through NDSU. Most courses are delivered through Blackboard. Courses include family sciences, lifespan development, and child development.

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6 Brigham Young University-Idaho 61.00 2/5 52% Rexburg, ID

North Dakota State, located in Fargo, serves more than 14,000 students across the state. Students can choose from 35 fully online and blended undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs through NDSU's Distance and Continuing Education program.

Students seeking a degree in human development and family studies online are drawn to NDSU's flexible program. The BS in human development and family science is offered fully online, aside from a required field experience component. Students choose from three program tracks: adult development and aging, child and adolescent development, and family science. Full-time students can complete the program in about four-years. By taking courses during the summer the degree can be earned sooner. NDSU's transfer policy requires online transfer students to complete at least 36 credits through NDSU. Most courses are delivered through Blackboard. Courses include family sciences, lifespan development, and child development.

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7 North Dakota State University-Main Campus 60.75 3/5 53% Fargo, ND

Arizona is committed to providing a flexible and affordable education for its distance learners. Nonresidents pay the same rate as Arizona residents. UA has developed an online learning management system, powered by D2L.

Arizona has one of the best human development and family studies programs online. Graduates of the bachelor of applied science: human services emphasis program are prepared for careers in social work, emergency response, and law enforcement. It also prepares students for graduate studies. The online degree is a 2 + 2 program; students who want to enroll in the program must complete their first two-years of general requirements at a community college and then transfer to UA. Applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA in their community college coursework to apply. There is a two-semester second language requirement. Courses include critical thinking, human services, and program planning.

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8 Washington State University 60.13 3/5 67% Pullman, WA

Affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU-Idaho provides an academically enriching environment in which students can strengthen their Christian faith. BYUI offers more than 15 degrees online, and there's no limit to how many credits or courses students can complete through the school's online learning program. This allows students to earn an online bachelor's in family studies at an accelerated pace by taking courses year-round. BYUI's online programs are designed for students who have taken some college coursework and now want to finish their degrees online.

BYUI provides a holistic approach to studying the home and family through its online BS in marriage & family studies. Courses include family stress and coping, infant and toddler development, and preparation for marriage. Graduates of this program are prepared to go on to entry-level management positions within a variety of family and child support services.

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9 Arizona State University-Tempe 60.13 3/5 58% Tempe, AZ

Through its Global Campus, Washington State fosters community bonds for its online students. Each online student is assigned an advisor. Online student resources include online tutoring and 24/7 tech support. WSU's Global Campus has its own student government, who plan face-to-face events so online students have the chance to meet and mingle with one another.

WSU's online BS in human development equips students to help individuals struggling with many life challenges. Coursework includes topics like child maltreatment, child and parent relationships, and families in poverty. Students can customize their degree with a concentration in gerontology or early childhood education. The early childhood education concentration is only available to residents of Washington state. Students can enroll in the program after completing at least 24 college credits and earning at least a 2.35 GPA. Students are can transfer these credits from community colleges.

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10 University of Wisconsin-Stout 56.88 3/5 52% Menomonie, WI

Arizona State, located in Tempe, offers students more than 150 online programs. More than 30,000 learners are enrolled in ASU's online college. Through the online success center, each student is paired with a coach who helps guide them through their educational journeys and ensure they find an appropriate work/life balance to achieve their goals.

ASU offers a BS in family & human development that can be completed fully online. It requires students to earn at least 120 credits with a 2.0 GPA. Students pursuing this degree study contemporary issues affecting human and family relationships, including the impact that gender, ethnicity, and culture has on human development and the healthy functioning of families. Students looking to transfer may be interested in ASU's Assured Admission program; transfer students are assured admission to most programs as long as they hold an associate degree and have earned at least a 2.0 GPA.

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11 Utah State University 52.00 3/5 50% Logan, UT

Wisconsin-Stout, a polytechnic school, combines career-focused learning with a liberal arts education. The school serves nearly 10,000 students from 45 states and 46 countries.

Wisconsin-Stout's BS in human development and family studies is a fully online program that has full-time and part-time options. Distance learners are required to earn at least 120 credits. The program is designed for students who already hold an associate degree from a technical school, or equivalent. Courses include abuse and the family, family policy, and family research and methodology. More than 90% of graduates from the school's online human development and family studies degree are employed in a related field or enrolled in a graduate program. With transfer credits, many students are able to complete their degree in two-years. Graduates are prepared for careers in family resource centers, rehabilitation centers, youth summer camps, and more.

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12 California State University-East Bay 51.00 3/5 41% Hayward, CA

Utah State has seven colleges across Utah, serving more than 28,000 students. USU offered its first fully online course in 1997. The school offers over 30 degrees and programs that can be completed fully online. Online students can take advantage of USU-Online's e-tutoring, software discounts, and remote IT help.

USU's BS in family life studies is only offered online. Admittance requires students to have at least a 3.0 GPA in previous coursework. The major is designed with adult learners in mind. USU's online class scheduling allows students to accelerate their online bachelor's in family studies by completing coursework on their own schedules. Most courses are offered in a 14-week format. Students are encouraged to specialize in a certain area of family life through the program's capstone practicum experience. Nonresidents pay a reduced tuition rate for online courses, while residents pay the standard tuition rates.

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13 Hope International University 50.38 4/5 40% Fullerton, CA

California State-East Bay is committed to providing an affordable education to its diverse student body. The school boasts one of the lowest tuition fees in the nation and has been recognized in its efforts to help students from diverse backgrounds succeed academically. CSUEB is also considered the elearning leader in the California State University system.

CSUEB offers an online BA in human development. Students pursuing the degree can choose from three course track options: adult development and gerontology, women's development, and early child development. CSUEB's online programs operate on a quarter schedule, with courses running for 11-weeks. Students can complete the online bachelor's in human development in two-years if they have already completed prerequisite courses. A full-time course load on CSUEB's quarter schedule is 12 credits, though students are permitted to take up to 22 credits. All coursework is delivered through Blackboard.

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14 Concordia University-Saint Paul 48.63 3/5 47% Saint Paul, MN

Hope International, located in Fullerton, California, is a Christ-centered institution that was founded in 1928. HIU integrates its core values of faith, service, and learning into all courses.

Online BS in human development students choose between two concentrations: community mental health and counseling, and family studies. HIU's online courses are asynchronous. Courses include counseling theories, careers counseling, abnormal psychology, and social issues. Students are required to earn at least 120 credits, this includes 25 credits of free electives. The major consists of 46 credits. The school has special benefits for military veterans and active-duty service members looking to complete their educations online. This includes an active-duty tuition discount and acceptance of credits earned through military service schools and exams. Graduates are prepared for graduate studies or a career in mental health institutions, counseling, social work, and more.

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15 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin 47.75 2/5 37% Odessa, TX

Concordia-Saint Paul is one of the most affordable private education institutions in the Twin Cities area. The school remains affordable through its per-credit tuition for online programs, and once a student enrolls in an online program, tuition is guaranteed not to change as long as the student remains continuously enrolled.

Through the school's online BA in family science, students learn to foster healthy family dynamics and instill strong communication between members. Concordia's accelerated online format courses are just seven-weeks long. The major consists of 39 credits. The family science program is approved by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), the nation's leading nonprofit professional organization focused on family research, practice, and education. Students in the online program have the option to complete a certification track to become a NCFR Certified Family Life Educator. Graduates are prepared for careers in early childhood education, child/youth development, public health, and more.

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16 Eastern Kentucky University 45.13 3/5 37% Richmond, KY

Eastern Kentucky, located in Richmond, serves over 14,000 students with its pre-professional, professional, and liberal arts programs. Through EKU Online, the school offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The school offer six start dates throughout the year.

Earning a degree in human development and family studies online from EKU gives students the opportunity to enroll in the child development concentration. The program runs on an accelerated eight-week course format. The university offers students two practicum experiences, this allows more chances to explore career paths in the real-world. Some of the program credits can be applied toward the Child Development Associate, the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education. Students are required to complete 120 credits or more. Courses include early childhood health care, addictions, and family stress and resilience. Students are required to submit to a background check and a negative tuberculin skin test.

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17 Stephen F Austin State University 38.13 4/5 44% Nacogdoches, TX

Amridge is a private institution dedicated to preserving Christian values and heritage. The vast majority of AU's courses are delivered in an online format. AU has provided distance learning since 1993.

The school offers more than 30 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. AU's BS in human development combines courses in child development and psychology with theology-focused electives, including surveys of the Old and New Testament. This online bachelor's in human development is designed to be a precursor to AU's masters programs in counseling and marriage and family therapy. Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for the school's master of arts with a concentration in marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, or pastoral therapy. First-time students of AU get a $150 tuition credit when they enroll. Graduates are prepared for careers in criminology, social work, counseling, mental health, and more.

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18 Amridge University 38.00 3/5 40% Montgomery, AL

Stephen F. Austin State, founded in 1923, is located in Nacogdoches, Texas. The independent institution boasts small class sizes and individualized attention, with an average student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1. Through SFA Online, students can pursue over 20 degrees completely online. Courses are offered through the D2L management system.

The school offers a BS in human sciences with an emphasis in human development and family studies. This program is designed for adult learners who have already completed two years of college coursework. Students take courses focused on child development and family dynamics, like middle child and adolescent development, parenting, and social policies and the family. The degree requires an internship. Graduates are prepared for careers as child life specialists, child care licensing agents, child care teachers, and more. Transfer students can apply up to 66 credits towards the degree.

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19 San Diego Christian College 35.88 4/5 43% Santee, CA

As one of the top Christian colleges in California, San Diego Christian aims to imbue its students with a Biblical worldview. The school's recent investment in technology and low tuition mark it as one of the best values in online Christian higher education.

SDC offers a number of undergraduate degrees online, including a BA in human development. Students are required to earn 124 credits. The program is offered completely online and in a hybrid format. Its accelerated schedule allows for courses to be completed in five-weeks. Graduates are prepared for careers as human resources professionals, youth advocates, crisis center staff members, and more. Most students take four-years to complete the program. This online program is an affordable choice for veterans and military members. SDC participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program in partnership with the VA to help fund military member's tuition.

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20 Warner Pacific College 32.38 4/5 54% Portland, OR

Warner Pacific, located in Portland, Oregon, is a Christian college that prides itself on meeting the needs of its urban community. WPC focuses on serving non-traditional learners; 43 percent of its student body are transfer students, and the school's Adult Degree Program is popular with working professionals.

Through the Adult Degree Program, students can earn a degree in human development and family studies online. WPC's BS in human development is a two-year program consisting of 14 courses. Courses include adult development, conflict resolution, cultural studies, and human sexuality. Most courses in the program are five-weeks long. Students must complete 48 hours of coursework from another college with a 2.0 GPA and have at least two-years of professional experience. Courses are synchronous. The program has a cohort approach to online learning; it helps students develop relationships with faculty and their fellow learners.

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Every family development degree online program is different. Depending on its access to cross-disciplinary departments, one program may offer only a few specializations while another program may offer up to a dozen. Still others may offer certain concentrations exclusively online while administering an amount of concentrations solely on campus. Below we’ve broken down course content for five popular concentrations and the careers for which they prepare graduates.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT

Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
Early childhood Focuses on cognitive and language growth in infants and toddlers, exploring the external factors that can impact development, such nutrition, safety, or creative expression. Program administration best practices and special needs in the young student are also explored. May require a practicum. Teaching or assistant teaching in preschool classrooms, special education teaching, or curriculum development
Pre-health professions Emphasizes the social, emotional, and mental development factors that drive patient behavior. Schools often organize these courses around the patient population or age group the student intends to serve, and explores the group’s unique perspectives. Nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy, speech and language pathology, medical practice, or dentistry
Disabilities Examines the daily lives of disabled Americans, exploring the ways policy affects their lives. Learners study disabilities in the context of the individual, the family, and the communities they affect. Special education teaching, advocacy, policy analysis, public administration, public policy, social work, clinical psychology, disability law
Public policy and law Explores the historic and current legal landscape behind existing public policies. This concentration covers the Constitution, social politics, gender studies, poverty, and the sociology of law. Human rights advocacy, public administration, policy analysis, volunteer management, crisis services, social services, law practice
Aging Emphasizes the social, psychological, and biological elements of adult development and aging. Students explore the nutritional, creative, and social needs of the aging adult, and topics such as appropriate physical activity. May require a practicum. Elder law, public administration, social services, housing placement, social work, healthcare facility administration, program planning

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT

Most schools require learners to study the building blocks of human and family development prior to beginning courses in any specialty area. Below, we’ve listed some examples of these fundamental courses:

  • Life-span development: Sometimes spanning two terms, this course explores physical, social, cognitive, and emotional growth from birth through senescence. Discussion focuses on an individual’s place within the family at each phase of life, and corresponding cultural and societal factors and elements. The course also covers contemporary issues and social policy.
  • Marriage and family relationships: In this course, students analyze topics such as courtship, close relationships, marriage, and family systems within the context of internal and external factors that influence them, such as cultural norms, societal expectations, and individual personalities. The course also addresses the changing role of family from a long-term perspective.
  • Intervention and problem-solving: Students enrolled in this course examine historical and contemporary approaches to formal and informal intervention. This class focuses on the role of the professional and effective strategies for resolution with individuals and within families.
  • Administration of human services programs: This course focuses on the fundamentals of program content, strategy, and strategic planning in community-oriented public services programs. Additionally, the course emphasizes best practices in program development and administration.
  • Statistics in family and consumer studies: Students enrolled in this course analyze and examine data relevant to the human family development sector. The course places emphasis on means, standard deviations, T-tests, chi-square, ANOVA, regression analysis, and correlations.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT?

At the baccalaureate level, an online degree in human and family development program requires that a student completes an average of 120 credits to graduate. Full-time students generally complete the program in four years, whether online or in traditional classrooms. However, depending on your circumstances, part-time study may be advantageous, allowing you to take more time to finish your program. Most universities do place a time limit on part-time study, generally somewhere from seven to 10 years. It’s worth noting that schools often require that students adhere to full-time attendance (defined as a course load of at least 12 credits per term) to be eligible for financial aid.

Distance learning can be an ideal choice for both the traditional or nontraditional student. Allowing for full-time or part-time study, online bachelor’s in human development programs offer scheduling flexibility that you won’t find on campus. Accelerated online degree programs exist in some academic disciplines, but human and family development isn’t one of them. Be sure to weigh potential programs carefully. After all, higher education is a significant time investment. If you’ve already attended some college at an accredited school, you may be able to transfer some (or even all) of the credits you’ve earned into your current program and, in turn, shorten the time it takes to earn your family development degree online.

When any academic program is accredited, its curriculum and admissions process has been vetted by a neutral accreditation agency. This process ensures that a standard of academic rigor and fairness can be reasonably expected from an accredited institution. Schools may earn accreditation on the national, regional, or program level (or even all three).

The three varieties differ. National accrediting bodies focus on a type of education, such as technical or vocational. If you’re mulling an online degree in human and family development, consider searching for schools that have earned national accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council Accrediting Commission. Regional accreditation bodies focus on academic rigor. In turn, regional accreditation carries more weight than national accreditation, particularly when it comes to graduate school admissions.

Program-specific accreditation, the third variety, is especially useful for evaluating the academic offerings in certain fields. Human and family development encompasses many fields. As a result, accreditations across industries can indicate that a program has been vetted against high standards. A few accreditations you might encounter in the best online degree in human and family development programs include:

  • The Council on Education for Public Health
  • The Council for Professional Recognition Early Childhood Education Training
  • National Council on Family Relations
  • American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Commission on the Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education
  • National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education

Though the federal government does not involve itself at the accreditation level, the U.S. Department of Education does provide oversight of the accreditation process. It also maintains a database of accredited schools. Similarly, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is an independent association of accredited degree-granting institutions and offers a database of accredited schools.

JOB PLACEMENT

Completing a four-year degree nearly always pays off in higher earnings and greater career mobility. While completing a human and family development bachelor’s program, graduates prepare for roles that correspond to their specialty. In many cases, these graduates hold a competitive advantage over peers who lack a four-year degree. The table below illustrates education’s boon to students who specialize in early childhood development.

Job Title Degree Required Median Annual Salary
Preschool teacher Associate $28,790
Preschool or childcare director Bachelor’s $45,790

Source: BLS

BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT SALARY

Though figures vary based on geographic location and specialty area, graduates of online bachelor’s in human development programs can expect decent starting salaries after graduation. As with any job, more work experience leads to higher salaries. The following table lists average earnings in five common roles for which graduates are equipped.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Social Worker $43,984 $40,358 $46,565 $56,783
Community Service Manager $47,993 $42,378 $50,775 $62,201
Special Education Teacher $45,011 $40,851 $45,378 $57,900
Occupational Therapist $64,680 $61,698 $71,437 $77,674
Nursing Home Administrator $86,036 $77,012 $91,239 $98,293

Sources: BLS, Payscale

BACHELOR’S IN HUMAN AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT CAREERS

Beyond the options we’ve discussed so far, this degree program’s versatility opens the door to many others career paths, including human resources, public relations, and professional development positions. The nonprofit sector is also a fine option, often employing fundraising and volunteer coordination staff. These programs serve as stepping stones to graduate study, leading to roles as attorneys, physicians, nurses, and therapists.

Wherever your education takes you, certain personality traits are essential in this field. Above all, you must be a caring person, sympathetic to the perspectives of the people you serve. You must be devoted to helping others, and possess a natural curiosity about individuals, families, and what makes them tick. Successful work with cross-functional teams calls for exceptional communication skills. Observation and assessments require strong attention to detail. Consider the following positions and how the aforementioned skills might apply:

Social Worker

Generally employed by government or nonprofit agencies, social worker identify problems that affect communities, families, or specific individuals. Working with cross-disciplinary resources, social workers work to solve programs or mitigate them as much as possible. Daily tasks might include arranging for a family to receive food stamps, referring a teen to counseling, or investigating a claim of child neglect.

Median Annual Salary $46,890

Projected Growth Rate 12%

Community Services Manager

Community services managers supervise and coordinate the administration of a social service agency or community service program. Depending on the employer’s size, daily duties may center around a specific program or encompass an entire facility’s programming. Duties include budgeting, strategic planning, staff development, program assessment and analysis, grant writing, and community outreach.

Median Annual Salary $64,680

Projected Growth Rate 10%

Special Education Teacher

Working mostly in public schools, these teachers work with children who are intellectually, emotionally, mentally, and/or physically challenged. Typical duties include adapting a mainstream curriculum to students with mild to moderate disability, IEP development and implementation, assessments, and serving as liaison between parents, social workers, psychologists, and therapists.

Median Annual Salary $57,910

Projected Growth Rate 6%

Occupational Therapist

Emphasizing skills necessary for the myriad activities of daily life, occupational therapists help their patients recover from illness or injury. Occupational therapists may also work with newly disabled patients to help them better adapt to a different way of living, and they develop strategies for tasks like preparing a meal and getting dressed. Occupational therapists educate families about a patient’s needs and work with patients to develop exercise routines that build strength and flexibility while reducing pain.

Median Annual Salary $81,910

Projected Growth Rate 27%

Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing home administrators manage a program or department within a retirement facility in accordance with healthcare legislation and regulatory compliance rules. Scope of responsibility can include building and grounds, admissions, finances, and patient care. Typical tasks include staff recruitment, program development, budgeting, and staff scheduling. Supervising nursing staff, nursing home administrators rarely care for patients directly.

Median Annual Salary $96,540

Projected Growth Rate 17%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Students and working professionals alike benefit from membership in industry-specific professional organizations. These organizations offer networking opportunities that often pay off as you build your career and by hosting conferences, holding educational seminars, and hiring guest speakers to discuss relevant issues, they provide a means to stay up-to-date in your field. If your specialty area requires continuing education credits, many professional associations offer CE options to members. Larger organizations frequently publish journals, newsletters or other materials that can also help you stay current. Because the human development and family studies umbrella covers so many disciplines, it’s impossible to list all pertinent organizations here, but through due diligence and research, you’ll find the associations most applicable to your career goals.

Among the most well-known of these associations are:

Undergraduate students at any accredited university may apply for financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Student aid providers use the FAFSA to calculate federal and state need-based awards such as grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans. High achievers may also qualify for merit scholarships or fellowships offered by a school or a department. Likewise, financial aid organizations and school departments make a wealth of scholarships available to students who meet their eligibility standards. It’s important to note that even if you don’t think you qualify for federal financial aid, you must complete the FAFSA to be considered for any other type of monetary award, in part because most schools use FAFSA data to manage students’ financial aid packages.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.