family study

Associate in Science in
Human Development and Family Studies

Program Summary

Prepare for a social work career that makes a difference in people's lives. This online associate degree program explores family development and life span and can provide you with the entry-level, professional skills you need for a variety of careers in human service professions.
How To Apply
Apply by March 15 to start May 15

How To Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

60 Credits $620/$664 per credit

Costs and Financial Aid 

Continue to Work and Earn an Online Associate Degree in Human Development and Family Studies

The Associate in Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) integrates practical and academic experiences to provide you with entry-level, professional competencies in the human service fields. The course work can help you gain a foundational understanding of life span and family development, and a core of professional skills that you can apply in program planning and service delivery. Many graduates go on to earn an HDFS bachelor's degree; some eventually enroll in graduate school. The online HDFS program can help you get a degree without ever setting foot on campus.

Why an HDFS Degree Online at Penn State?

Two Options — These options were created to give you a choice so you can focus on an aspect of human development and family studies that best meets your career goals:

  • The Adult Development and Aging Services option can prepare you for a wide variety of service roles in mental health facilities, or nursing homes and other institutions for the aged. It focuses on the biological, psychological, and social development of adults and elderly persons, with special emphasis on the various contexts of adult development, including work and the family.
  • The Children, Youth, and Family Services option is an ideal choice if you want to work with various age groups in centers, institutions, and agencies. The program's ultimate goal is to improve the quality of planned services for families from varied backgrounds and community settings.

Applied Learning — This may be an online degree, but preparing for a human services career requires experience working in the field with real people. HDFS students complete an internship at a human service organization in their community. Real-world experience will help you build professional networks, establish references, and reflect on what you have learned in the classroom.

Quality — This program was developed in Penn State's Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Development at University Park.

Step-Up Approach to Learning — The applicable credits that you earn to complete our associate degree are transferable to the Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies, if you decide to further your education.

Who Should Apply?

The associate degree in HDFS offers an excellent professional development opportunity if you already work in a human service–related field; it also serves as an appropriate entry point if you aspire to work in human service–related occupations.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

With an associate degree in HDFS, you can work in the human services field, promoting health and preventing social and mental health problems for:

  • children, youth, and families
  • adults and the elderly

You may also find employment in the following areas:

  • medical case worker
  • mental health worker
  • case manager
  • school support services
  • medical and public health services
  • substance abuse services

The associate degree in HDFS can also serve as a stepping-stone to further education if you wish to work as a counselor or social worker.

Penn State World Campus Student

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