Human Development and Family Science

Human Development and Family Science

This program offers an interdisciplinary lifespan approach to the study of children, youth and families. It encompasses specialty areas in preschool teaching, childcare, administration, youth studies, family services, child life, consumer economics, human sciences teacher education and extension. Students develop an awareness of trends, issues and public policy affecting families and analyze factors that influence cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development in the contexts of culture and family. Graduates enter diverse public and private sectors which focus on enabling children and families to function effectively in today's complex society. The Human Development and Family Science undergraduate program has been approved by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) as meeting the Standards and Criteria for the Provisional Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) and is accredited by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).


Students concentrate in one of five areas

Child Development

The child development concentration explores the growth and development of children (conception until adolescence) within the family system and sociocultural milieu. The coursework prepares students to become competent early care and education professionals, parent educators, child advocates, and early interventionists within the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Students participate in real-world application through lab experiences at the Child Development and Family Studies Center and internships in settings that align with the students’ career goals. Students who intern with a licensed teacher have the opportunity to obtain a Mississippi Pre-K–K license. The Child Development major is also offered online through the Center for Distance Education.

Child Development Curriculum

Child Life

Child life specialist work with children in a healthcare setting. Child life specialist provide normalizing interventions and coping strategies through play, establish therapeutic relationships with children and families, and provide developmentally appropriate interventions for medical experiences. The coursework prepares students for a clinical internship with a Certified Child Life Specialist, while meeting course requirements set by the Child Life Council for eligibility for professional certification.

Child Life Curriculum

Family Science

The Family Science program helps students discover, verify, and apply knowledge about the family. Family Science students gain valuable real-world experience through a required field experience course and an internship, and graduates are able to receive provisional certification through the National Council on Family Relations as Certified Family Life Educators, recognizing their competence in a broad range of ten family-related content areas. They are prepared to address societal issues including economics, education, work-family issues, parenting, sexuality, gender, substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, debt, and child abuse within the context of the family. Graduates can work in a variety of governmental, non-profit, religious, and private agencies.

Family Science Curriculum

Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Education

The Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Education prepares graduates to teach diverse populations: children, youth, adults, people with disabilities, the elderly, business professionals, and others. The teaching program is integrated and interdisciplinary and involves the ability to teach about problem solving and critical thinking, parenting skills, relationship skills, wellness and nutrition, clothing selection, time management, job skills and money management.

Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Education Curriculum

Youth Development

The Youth Development curriculum prepares students to understand and work effectively with children and adolescents, ages 10-18, in a variety of settings. The program provides students with a comprehensive view of the needs and developmental characteristics of youths, as well as the challenges facing today’s youths. Emphasis is placed on understanding how youth development does not occur in isolation but is situated in, and affected by, contexts such as relationships, family, neighborhood/community, school, culture, the economy, and society. Youth Studies students gain valuable real-world experience through a required field experience course and an internship. Students are also able to develop specific areas of specialization to fit their career interests by choosing from a generous variety of focus area courses. The Youth Development program is unique in that students are given the opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience through a required field experience course and an internship. Students are also able to develop specific areas of specialization to fit their career interests by choosing from a generous variety of focus area courses.

Youth Development Curriculum

Accelerated Program

The Human Development and Family Science major offers an accelerated program to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in a shorter length of time. Students in the Accelerated Program take graduate-level courses and earn both undergraduate credit and graduate credit simultaneously. Students need to consult with a potential graduate advisor to ensure graduate credit could be applied to a program of study for the graduate degree. Applications to these programs are submitted in the junior year (i.e., after completion of 60 or more hours of graded undergraduate courses).

Background Check

Procedure for getting a Child Abuse Registry Check and Fingerprint Cards completed.

  1. Call Beyonka at the Child Development and Family Studies Center (662-325-3031) and set up a time to go by and pick up the required paperwork (Note: you will need your original social security card, no copies or photos, and driver's license—this is all for the Child Abuse Central Registry Check). You will fill out paperwork then Beyonka, Andrelyn, or Samantha will sign as a witness.
  2. Take fingerprint cards to the MSU police department (25 Walker Road) and have fingerprints rolled, if you notify them that you are a MSU student then there is no charge for fingerprinting but previously it cost $5.00.
  3. You will pay the fingerprinting processing fee at the Child Development and Family Studies Center using a debit or credit card; the total processing fee is $54.17 and this fee is payable before your fingerprint cards will be mailed.
  4. Bring all paperwork, fingerprint cards, and documents back to Beyonka for review; the Child Development and Family Center mails documents and keeps copies until official documents are processed and you have a cleared letter of suitability stating that you can work with children.

Beyonka will then be able to track it through the fingerprinting department's website with the center's login information. Once the fingerprint card(s) have cleared the system and the student has a letter then the Center will notify the student and give them a copy via their official university email. The center will send a copy of the letter of suitability to the Student Services Coordinator, and they will add to the student’s official record.

If the student's information is not fully processed then the Mississippi State Department of Health's fingerprinting division located at Jackson, MS will contact the applicant via a letter with the reason and instructions on how to clear up any offenses on their record. The center will only be notified that the person cannot be around children, we are never told what the record shows.

The other reason why someone would not be able to be fully processed is if their fingerprints did not roll well, in which case the Mississippi State Department of Health's fingerprinting division located at Jackson, MS, will contact the center that they need to submit additional fingerprint cards for the applicant. There is no additional fees if this is necessary.


  • Adolescent Services Coordinators
  • Case Worker/Case Manager
  • Child Advocate
  • Child Care Center Owner/Director
  • Director of Volunteers
  • Drug and Alcohol Program Counselor
  • Early Head Start Teacher
  • Early Interventionist
  • Extension Service Employee
  • Family Life Counselor
  • 4-H Professionals
  • Gerontology Professional
  • Human Services Worker
  • Intake Counselor
  • Juvenile Probation Officers
  • Parent Educator
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Youth Organization Professionals (Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, church youth groups)
  • Youth Program Administrators

Certificate Programs


A minor in Gerontology is available at the undergraduate level. For graduate students, a Certificate in Gerontology is offered. Gerontology is the study of aging and late life potential from the perspective of many disciplines. Students learn strategies for enhancing the quality of life and life expectancy. No matter what your area of study, a Gerontology minor or Certificate may make you more marketable to a future employer. Increased life expectancy means more opportunities for careers with older Americans. It is projected that the number of Americans over the age of 65 will double by 2030. This population increase is expected to result in greater demand for services and professionals trained to meet the special needs of the older adult. If you want to capitalize on some of the opportunities this presents for your future career, consider the Gerontology minor/Certification.

Trauma-informed Child Advocacy Certificate Program

Professionals working with children and families need training in trauma-informed practices. This certificate program complements the MSU HDFS degree and other majors taught across departments and colleges by providing state of the science techniques used to assist and advocate for children and families who have experienced trauma. Visit our Trauma-informed Child Advocacy Certificate program page.


Students completing a major in Human Development & Family Science with a concentration in Child Development and choosing to pursue Pre-K/K licensure take both the Praxis II Education of Young Children (0021/5021) and the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood (0621/5621).

The Pre-Kindergarten-Kindergarten (PreK-K) certification can be obtained without licensure testing under the suspension of the licensure testing criterion until December 31, 2021 that was approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) on March 26, 2020, as long as the other criterion for PreK–K license has been met. The SBE approval can be found at the following link under Item 3:

Students completing a major in Human Development & Family Science with a concentration in Family & Consumer Sciences Teacher Education and pursuing FCS licensure take the Family & Consumer Science (7-12) test.


Students may apply for university, college and departmental scholarships through one application. You can find the scholarship application once you login to myState. Under the banner tab, select Financial Aid and Scholarships. The application is listed as Submit/Revise General Scholarship Application.

Student Organizations

Student organizations provide an excellent opportunity to network with professionals and peers. There are numerous organizations that are available through the Department and the University.

Study Abroad

The Office of Study Abroad (OSA) offers the students and faculty of Mississippi State University the opportunity to explore academic opportunities outside of the United States. Students have three options to study abroad: MSU Faculty led-programs, exchange programs, and affiliated provider company programs. Find out more at the MSU Office of Study Abroad.

Transfer Students

Students may transfer to Mississippi State University from regionally accredited community, junior or senior colleges for any period of enrollment, provided they have earned a 2.0 GPA (as computed by Mississippi State University) on all college courses attempted as well as earned a 2.0 GPA on the 30-hours of core courses. Transfer students should look at the transfer course equivalent guide to determine which courses will transfer.

Student Metrics

Graduation Rates and Retention

Number of Degrees (Academic Year)

Degree Grad Major Grad Conc 2020 2021 2022
BS FDM DPD 8 13 15
BS FDM MERC 31 20 33
BS HDFS CHDV 31 30 31
BS HDFS CL 2 6 9
BS HDFS YD 13 10 5
MS FDM DPD 1 1 5
MS HDFS   7 2 3
PHD HDFS   3 2 1

Retention Rate by Cohort Year

Major Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Fall 2021
FDM 90.0% 84.0% 92.9%
HDFS 100.0% 87.5% 71.4%

Graduation Rate by Cohort Year

Major Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018
FDM 78.3% 60.9% 52.9%
HDFS 71.4% 57.1% 66.7%

Want to know more?

Bailey Poindexter | 662.325.7703