A student being superimposed in front of a magenta background showing a family portrait.

Turn Your Passion into a Profession That Helps Children and Families Thrive

You’ve enjoyed working with children for as long as you can remember—as a volunteer, babysitter, or devoted family member. You’ve been interested in caring for others for a long time. It’s time to turn your passion into a fulfilling future.

Earning your degree in the Human Development and Family Science BS program at IUP is your first, most important step toward that goal. This degree program can take you where you want to go—and it’s the only one of its kind in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Why Study Human Development and Family Science at IUP?

This bachelor of science program is offered entirely online, so you can manage work, family, and other responsibilities while earning your degree. Online doesn’t mean your education will be an impersonal, computer-based experience. Throughout your studies, you’ll work directly with individuals in various settings to ensure you’re getting a hands-on education.

What You’ll Learn

The Human Development and Family Science BS program focuses on:

  • Curriculum
  • Leadership
  • Organization and administration
  • Pedagogy
  • Program quality

You’ll take your experiences and interests in early childhood further as you learn more about human development in terms of social interaction and behavior. This bachelor’s degree will help you go on to discover new solutions for major issues facing children, youth, and families today.

Start Out Ahead

Transfer in credits from high school or a community college, or bring in your child development associate credential (CDA) from the PA Key for nine IUP credits.

Imagine Your Future

Earning your bachelor's degree in human development and family science prepares you for a wide range of positions that address all aspects of child and family life—from early intervention to at-risk adolescents. Social work, education, and health-related positions may also be a good fit.

Employment in this field is expected to grow by 9 percent for social workers, social and human services assistants, and community educators. Jobs for preschool and childcare center directors are projected to increase by 12 percent. And growth is expected at more than the average rate throughout the next few years.

Pennsylvania Director Credential

Upon graduation, you also can apply for a Pennsylvania Director Credential. This establishes you as a preferred candidate for director positions in programs that participate in Pennsylvania’s Child Care Quality Initiative, Keystone Stars.

Human Development and Family Science

  • Adoption services
  • Child life specialist
  • Community education
  • Crisis counselor
  • Early care and education
  • Family caseworker
  • Foster care services
  • Instructor in adult education programs
  • Life-skills educator
  • Mental and behavioral health support

Social/Case Worker Annual Salary


with 708,100 jobs in the US and projected job growth of +64,000 over 10 years.

Social and Human Services Assistant Annual Salary


with 420,600 jobs in the US and projected job growth of +52,400 over 10 years.

Preschool/Childcare Center Director Annual Salary


with 74,600 jobs in the US and projected job growth of +6,200 over 10 years.

Juvenile Justice Worker Annual Salary


with 92,700 jobs in the US and projected job growth of +3,500 over 10 years.

Classes and Requirements

You know how important it is to have real, hands-on experience when it comes to understanding human development and the needs of kids and families.

One of the strengths of IUP's human development and family science curriculum is the opportunities you’ll have to work directly with young people and families, either in the preschool on campus or in other community settings. You’ll also be required to complete volunteer work with human services agencies to help prepare you for your chosen field.

Consider a Specialization

This major is very flexible. You can complete a minor or specialization in addition to your bachelor's degree. Within the BS in Human Development and Family Science program, you may select one of three specializations:

  • Child Life—Choose this specialization if you’re interested in pursuing a job in the field of child life.
  • Family Life Education—If you think your future includes a career in human services roles—like intake coordination, crisis intervention, advocacy, or residential counseling—add this specialization to your bachelor’s degree program. Upon completion, you’ll be eligible for the National Council on Family Relations Certified Family Educator (CFLE) credential.

Full Academic Catalog Listing

The course catalog is the official reference for all our degree and course offerings. Check it out for a full listing of the classes available and requirements for this degree.

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Rachel Hissong

Rachel Hissong ’21, Human Development and Family Science

The hands-on nature of the Human Development and Family Science department is what contributed most to my learning and success as a student at IUP.

Sierra Shoener

Sierra Shoener ’21, Human Development and Family Science

IUP prepared me to work with children and families post-graduation by giving me the opportunity to work directly with them while working on my degree.

Add Value to Your Degree: Join the Child and Family Studies Student Group

Get even more out of your college experience by joining the Child and Family Studies Student Group. The group is focused on developing leadership skills and volunteering in the community.

Even while studying online, participating with our Child and Family Studies Student Group will enrich what you’re learning. And you'll create a valuable network that will last beyond graduation.

Contact the advisor, Sarah Brown (Sarah.Brown@iup.edu), to express your interest or join via the Crimson Connect page.

Child Development and Family Science Minor

If you’re majoring in another field but are interested in early childhood, youth, and family science, consider adding a minor to your degree program. Child development and family science is a vital area of study if you aspire to become an administrator in a human services agency at the federal, state, or local level.

Our 18-credit minor is an ideal fit for many majors, including:

  • Criminology
  • Deaf education
  • Educational psychology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Full Academic Catalog Listing

The course catalog is the official reference for all our degree and course offerings. Check it out for a full listing of the classes available and requirements for this minor.

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Get Involved in the PEAR Lab

The skills you’ll develop in our Program Evaluation and Applied Research (PEAR) Lab can be applied to a variety of fields. You’ll focus on theory, empirical evidence, and research methods to address relevant issues for youth and families. In the PEAR lab, you’ll learn to:

  • Gather information.
  • Use data and research to inform practice.
  • Effectively engage with stakeholders.
  • Write reports for diverse audiences.

Recently, the PEAR Lab, under the direction of Professor Kalani Palmer, participated in the

Help for Student-Parents: Join the CCAMPIS Team

IUP’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program provides mentoring, tracking academic progress, and coaching to our student-parents. The CCAMPIS team helps student-parents connect with university and community resources while working with them to monitor their own children’s development. Student-parents also attend workshops that support parenting.

Kalani Palmer, associate professor in the Department of Professional Studies in Education, is the project director of CCAMPIS at IUP. Under her direction, she secured the grant for 2017–21, along with a second round of four-year funding, 2021–25, for the program at IUP.