This degree prepares its graduates to use family-centered and strengths-based approaches to support the health and well-being of individuals and families in diverse communities. Graduates will have a strong interdisciplinary foundation in the HDFS field and competencies in 10 areas as established by the National Council on Family Relations, including:

  • internal dynamics of relationships and families
  • human growth and development
  • family-and community-based program planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • social policies and laws affecting families
  • family diversity
  • research methodology
  • professional ethics as related to the HDFS field

The HDFS curriculum prepares students to effectively engage with families across the lifespan and in a variety of service settings and professions, from early childhood education and care to family law and policy advocacy.

Our program prepares students to critically analyze complex family issues, advocate for families in schools, communities, and in the policy arena, and address social-structural factors contributing to and influencing family functioning, health, and well-being (e.g., poverty and wealth inequality, immigration and illegalization, family homelessness, incarceration, family violence, and discrimination and structural violence such as racism, nationalism, or heterosexism). Students are required to complete an internship and integrate research training with service fieldwork. Such an experience is a critical component of HDFS student development and will further prepare our students for graduate education and diverse careers in the human development and family science field.

Banner Code: LA-BA-HDFS

Formerly (E1-BA-HDFS)

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 120

Core Courses in the Major

HDFS 200Individual and Family Development (Mason Core)3
PSYC 211Lifespan Development (Mason Core)3
HDFS 300Individual and Family Services Delivery3
INTS 321Parent-Child Relations (Mason Core)4
HDFS 480Special Topics in Human Development and Family Science3-4
HDFS 498Internship and Analysis in Human Development and Family Science3
HDFS 499Advanced Internship and Analysis in Human Development and Family Science (Mason Core)3
Select one course from the following:3-4
Research for Social Change (Mason Core)
Research Methods in Psychology (Mason Core)
Methods and Logic of Inquiry (Mason Core)
Select one course from the following:3-4
Advanced Family Processes (Mason Core)
Issues in Family Relationships (Mason Core)
Contemporary Families and Intimate Relationships
Psychology of Intimate Relationships
Select one course from the following:3
Family Financial Literacy and Resource Management
The Hospitalized Child and Family
Therapeutic Benefits of Play
Family Law and Public Policy
Total Credits31-34
Major Elective Choices12
Elective choices follow career and professional interests. Elective courses are suggested by advisors and mentors and approved by the Academic Program Coordinator. See below for areas of focus.
Families and Individuals Across the Life Span
Human Anatomy and Physiology I
Family and Health Communication
Delinquency and the Juvenile Justice System
Law and Justice around the World (Mason Core)
Foundations of Language and Literacy for Diverse Young Learners, Birth-Age 5
Inclusive Curriculum for Young Learners: Planning Instruction and Guidance
Introduction to Early Childhood Special Education
Medical and Developmental Aspects of Disabilities of Diverse Young Learners
Developing Language, Literacy, and Communication of Diverse Infants and Toddlers
Early Intervention for Infants Toddlers with Disabilities: Collaborative Consultative Approaches
Disability in American Culture (Mason Core)
Children's Literature for Teaching in Diverse Settings (Mason Core)
Health Care Delivery in the United States
Assisted Living/Senior Housing Management and Philosophy
Introduction to Health Services Research
The Hospitalized Child and Family
Dimensions of Mental Health
Drugs and Health
Women's Health
Men's Health
Relationship Health
Health Communication
Violence, Gender, and Sexuality
Images and Experiences of Childhood: Social Construct, Literature, and Film
Conflict, Trauma and Healing
Introduction to Childhood Studies (Mason Core)
Issues in Family Relationships (Mason Core)
Contemporary Youth Studies (Mason Core)
Women and Leadership
Contemporary Health: Intersections in Science and Society (Mason Core)
Social Justice Education (Mason Core)
Introduction to Nutrition (Mason Core)
Social Psychology (Mason Core)
Principles of Learning (Mason Core)
Child Development
Adolescent Development
Cognitive Psychology
Psychology of Gender
Applied Cross-Cultural Psychology (Mason Core)
Behavior Disorders of Childhood
Psychological Factors in Aging
Death, Dying, and Grieving
Psychology of Intimate Relationships
Sociology of Delinquency
Race and Ethnicity in a Changing World (Mason Core)
Contemporary Families and Intimate Relationships
Sociology of Deviance
Contemporary Gender Relations (Mason Core)
Youth Culture and Society (Mason Core)
Sociology of Health, Illness, and Disability
Child and Family Welfare
Introduction to Gerontology
Current Issues in Women and Gender Studies
Women and Work
Family Advocacy
Family and Health Communication
Disability in American Culture (Mason Core)
Introduction to Public Health
Health Behavior Theories
Health and Disease
Health Promotion and Education
Social Determinants of Health
Health Care Delivery in the United States
Introduction to Health Services Research
Personal Health
Dimensions of Mental Health
Introduction to Health Behavior (Mason Core)
Drugs and Health
Human Sexuality
Women's Health
Men's Health
Relationship Health
Health Communication
Conflict, Trauma and Healing
Issues in Family Relationships (Mason Core)
Contemporary Health: Intersections in Science and Society (Mason Core)
Nutrition throughout the Life Cycle
Applied Cross-Cultural Psychology (Mason Core)
Death, Dying, and Grieving
Psychology of Intimate Relationships
Race and Ethnicity in a Changing World (Mason Core)
Contemporary Families and Intimate Relationships
Social Inequality (Mason Core)
Sociology of Health, Illness, and Disability
Current Issues in Women and Gender Studies
Research and Policy
Introduction to Law and Society
Law and Justice around the World (Mason Core)
Health Ethics, Leadership, and Advocacy
Public Law and the Judicial Process
Interest Groups, Lobbying, and the Political Process
Public Policy Making
Public Policy Analysis
Law and Society
Politics of Race and Gender
Feminist Political Thought
Human Rights
Health Care Delivery in the United States
Healthcare Law
Introduction to Health Care Politics and Policy
Introduction to Health Services Research
Issues in Family Relationships (Mason Core)
Social Justice Consciousness and Action
Social Justice and Human Rights (Mason Core)
Women and Leadership
Psychology of Gender
Applied Cross-Cultural Psychology (Mason Core)
Psychology of Intimate Relationships
Race and Ethnicity in a Changing World (Mason Core)
Contemporary Families and Intimate Relationships
Qualitative Research Methods
Contemporary Gender Relations (Mason Core)
Social Inequality (Mason Core)
Changing Social Policies and Systems
Legal and Ethical Issues in Human Services
Introductory Statistics I (Mason Core)
Introductory Statistics II

Writing Intensive Requirement

The university requires all students to complete at least one courses designated "writing intensive" in their majors at the 300 level or above. Students majoring in human development and family science may fulfill this requirement by successfully completing INTS 321 Parent-Child Relations (Mason Core).

Upper Level Requirement

Students seeking a bachelor's degree must apply at least 45 credits of upper-level courses (numbered 300 or above) toward graduation requirements.

Additional Electives

Any remaining credits may be completed with elective courses to bring the degree total to 120.

College Level Requirements for the BA Degree

In addition to the Mason Core program, students pursuing a BA degree must complete the coursework below. Except where expressly prohibited, a course used to fulfill a college level requirement may also be used simultaneously to satisfy other requirements (Mason Core requirements or requirements for the major).

Philosophy or Religious Studies
Select 3 credits from the following:3

Note that the following courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement:

  • PHIL 323 Classical Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 324 Modern Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 327 Contemporary Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 393 Humanities College to Career 
  • PHIL 460 Senior Seminar in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Additionally, PHIL 253RELI 235RELI 333, and RELI 339 cannot be used to fulfill both the philosophy/religious studies requirement and the Mason Core literature requirement.

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Select 3 credits of social and behavioral sciences from the following (additional to the Mason Core social and behavioral sciences requirement) 13
Or choose from the following GGS courses:
Major World Regions (Mason Core)
Human Geography (Mason Core)
Introduction to Geoinformation Technologies
Political Geography (Mason Core)
Geography of Resource Conservation (Mason Core)
Population Geography (Mason Core)
Economic Geography
Urban Geography
Geography of the United States
Geography of Latin America
Geography of Europe
Geography of North Africa and the Middle East
Geography of Eastern Europe and Russia
Urban Planning
Geography of Virginia

The two courses used to fulfill the combined college and Mason Core requirements must be from different disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. 


HIST 100 and HIST 125 may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

Foreign Language
Intermediate-level proficiency in one foreign language, fulfilled by: 1
Or achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test
Or completing the following ASL three course sequence:
American Sign Language (ASL) I
American Sign Language (ASL) II
American Sign Language (ASL) III

Students who are already proficient in a second language may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Non-Western Culture

Select 3 credits of an approved course in the study of a non-Western culture (additional to the Mason Core requirement in global understanding)

Select 3 credits (additional to Mason Core Global Understanding requirement) 1
ANTH 114Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Mason Core)3
ANTH 300Civilizations3
ANTH 302Peoples and Cultures of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ANTH 307Ancient Mesoamerica (Mason Core)3
ANTH 308Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East (Mason Core)3
ANTH 309Peoples and Cultures of India (Mason Core)3
ANTH 313Myth, Magic, and Mind (Mason Core)3
ANTH 314Zombies3
ANTH 317East Asian Cultures3
ANTH 330Peoples and Cultures of Selected Regions: Non-Western3
ANTH 332Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Globalization (Mason Core)3
ANTH 381Medical Anthropology3
ANTH 396Issues in Anthropology: Social Sciences (Mason Core)3
ARAB 360Topics in Arabic Cultural Production3
ARAB 365Black and Minority Cultures in Arabic Literature (Mason Core)3
ARAB 420Survey of Arabic Literature3
ARAB 440Topics in Arabic Religious Thought and Texts (Mason Core)3
ARTH 203Survey of Asian Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 204Survey of Latin American Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 206Survey of African Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 317The Black Pharaohs: Art and Archaeology of Ancient Nubia (Mason Core)3
ARTH 318Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt3
ARTH 319Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (Mason Core)3
ARTH 320Art of the Islamic World (Mason Core)3
ARTH 382Arts of India (Mason Core)3
ARTH 383Arts of Southeast Asia (Mason Core)3
ARTH 384Arts of China (Mason Core)3
ARTH 385Arts of Japan (Mason Core)3
ARTH 482RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art (Mason Core)3
CHIN 318Introduction to Classical Chinese (Mason Core)3
CHIN 320Contemporary Chinese Film3
CHIN 325Major Chinese Writers (Mason Core)3
CHIN 470Special Topics in Chinese Studies3
DANC 118Global Dance Perspectives I (Mason Core)3
ECON 361Economic Development of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ECON 362African Economic Development (Mason Core)3
FREN 454Topics in Caribbean Francophone Literature and Culture3
GGS 101Major World Regions (Mason Core)3
GGS 316Geography of Latin America3
GGS 317Geography of China (Mason Core)3
GGS 325Geography of North Africa and the Middle East3
GGS 399Select Topics in GGS3
GOVT 332Politics of the Middle East and North Africa3
GOVT 333Politics of East Asia3
GOVT 338Politics of Eurasia3
GOVT 340Central Asian Politics3
GOVT 341Chinese Foreign Policy3
GOVT 345Islam and Politics3
GOVT 433Political Economy of East Asia3
HIST 251Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 252Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 261Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 262Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 271Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 272Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 281Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 282Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 326Stalinism3
HIST 327The Soviet Union and Russia Since World War II3
HIST 328Rise of Russia (Mason Core)3
HIST 329Modern Russia and the Soviet Union (Mason Core)3
HIST 353History of Traditional China3
HIST 354Modern China (Mason Core)3
HIST 356Modern Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 357Postwar Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 358Post-1949 China (Mason Core)3
HIST 360History of South Africa (Mason Core)3
HIST 364Revolution in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 365Conquest and Colonization in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 366Comparative Slavery3
HIST 377The Vietnam War (Mason Core)3
HIST 384Global History of Christianity (Mason Core)3
HIST 387Topics in Global History (Mason Core)3-6
HIST 461Arab-Israeli Conflict3
HIST 462Women in Islamic Society (Mason Core)3
HIST 465The Middle East in the 20th Century3
JAPA 310Japanese Culture in a Global World (Mason Core)3
JAPA 340Topics in Japanese Literature (Mason Core)3
JAPA 380Japan in Motion3
KORE 300Korean Culture and Society3
KORE 320Korean Popular Culture in a Global World3
KORE 385Introduction to Korean Linguistics3
MUSI 103Musics of the World (Mason Core)3
RELI 211Introduction to Religions of the "West" (Mason Core)3
RELI 212Introduction to Religions of Asia (Mason Core)3
RELI 312Islam (Mason Core)3
RELI 313Hinduism (Mason Core)3
RELI 314Chinese Philosophies and Religious Traditions3
RELI 315Buddhism (Mason Core)3
RELI 317Daoism3
RELI 318Korean Philosophy and Religions3
RELI 338Qur'an and Hadith3
RELI 342Comparative Study of Mysticism3
RELI 344Muhammad: Life and Legacy3
RELI 358Islamic Thought (Mason Core)3
RELI 367Islamic Law, Society, and Ethics3
RELI 368Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights (Mason Core)3
RELI 384Global History of Christianity (Mason Core)3
RELI 490Comparative Study of Religions (Mason Core)3
RUSS 353Russian Civilization (Mason Core)3
RUSS 354Contemporary Post-Soviet Life (Mason Core)3
WMST 407Transnational Sexualities3

A course used to fulfill the Mason Core global understanding requirement may not be simultaneously used to satisfy this college-level requirement. A course used to fulfill this requirement may be used simultaneously to fulfill any other requirements (Mason Core requirements, college-level requirements, or requirements for the major). Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

 Mason Core

Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Students who have completed the following credentials are eligible for a waiver of the Foundation and Exploration (lower level) requirement categories. The Integration category (upper level) is not waived under this policy. See Admissions for more information. 

  • VCCS Uniform Certificate of General Studies
  • VCCS or Richard Bland Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Arts and Sciences (A.A.&S.), or Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.)
Foundation Requirements
Written Communication (lower-level)3
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology and Computing3
Exploration Requirements
Global Contexts3
Global History3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Just Societies (optional) 1
Integration Requirements
Written Communication (upper-level)3
Writing Intensive 23
Mason Apex 33
Total Credits40

In addition to covering content related to the designated category, Exploration level courses marked with a Just Societies "flag" are specifically designed to help students learn how to interact effectively with others from all walks of life, including those with backgrounds and beliefs that differ from their own. Courses marked with the Just Societies flag are available for students starting in Fall 2024. Students admitted prior to the Fall of 2025 are not required to take courses with a Just Societies flag but may wish to do so to increase their knowledge and skills in this important area. Students interested in this approach to completing their Mason Core Exploration Requirements should work closely wiht their advisor to identify the appropriate Just Societies-flagged courses.


Most programs include the writing-intensive course designated for the major as part of the major requirements; this course is therefore not counted towards the total required for Mason Core.


Minimum 3 credits required.

Program Outcomes

  1. Culture and Diversity in Individuals, Families, and Communities - Practiced in the application of knowledge, theory, and research on diverse experiences of: 
    • individuals and how they influence families (e.g., ability-disability, LGBTQ+, linguistics),  
    • families and how systems and institutions support/negate family structures, and 
    • individuals and families and how they are impacted by changes in social and cultural constructs. 
  2. Family Systems, Processes and Interpersonal Relationships - Understand and critically apply family theories to explain family processes within diverse contexts from a strengths-based perspective of:
    •  both healthy and dysfunctional family processes
    •  current evidence- and strengths-based practices and interventions that foster family health and resilience
    •  the influence of family processes on subsequent relationships across the life course 
  3. Human Development Across the Life Course - Knowledgeable about major physical, cognitive, and psychosocial changes across the lifespan 
    • of associated theoretical, historical, and current issues, 
    • impact of contextual factors such as parenting, families, and society, and 
    • impact of individual factors such as health status and ability. 
  4. Individual and Family Resource Management - Understand theory, research, practices, and policies relevant to family finance and resource management
    •  knowledge and skills in planning financial security for an individual or family throughout the life cycle, and 
    • experience personal growth and development in family financial literacy and resource management. 
  5. Individual and Family Ethics, and Practice - Demonstrate an understanding of theories and methods for helping individuals and families in human service settings to: 
    • ensure appropriate ethical decisions, 
    • protect clients’ rights in using family laws and policies 
    • identify, find, apply for, and successfully carry out a human services internship, and  
    • propose, implement, and present an individual impact project in human development and family science. 
  6. Individual and Family Research Methods - Practiced in the examination of a research problems involving individuals and/or families
    • situating analytical or policy inquiries about individuals and families into the current scholarly literature 
    • investigating research questions using methods, analysis, creative problem solving, communication, and writing of research, and 
    • articulating a research problem involving individuals and/or families.