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Human Development and Family Studies: Early Childhood

Bachelor of Arts

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Program Intro

The Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) major with a Concentration in Early Childhood is designed for an aspiring human services professional who wants to work with children (from birth through age 8) and their families.

Department of Behavioral Sciences

HDFS courses prepare you for service-based work with families by focusing on cultural understanding, strategies for helping and securing resources. As an Early Childhood concentration student, you’ll study children’s development and education, behavioral science and family dynamics. You’ll also have the opportunity to undertake experiential learning in the community.

Curriculum Overview

The HDFS curriculum includes courses on family dynamics, stages of human development, law and ethics, human services skills/practice, research methods and diversity. To specialize in working with children, you’ll complete a number of classes that focus on their social and educational development.

You can currently complete this program at PNW’s Hammond campus.

Begin your studies with a first-year experience course for behavioral science students, as well as Working with Parents and Introduction to Human Development.

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Sample Courses

  • BHS 10300 – First-Year Experience in Behavioral Sciences
  • HDFS 10100 – Working with Parents
  • HDFS 21600 – Introduction to Early Childhood Education

Continue building your knowledge with courses that focus on child development, early childhood education and family dynamics.

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Sample Courses

  • HDFS 34101 – Infants and Young Children in Family and Community
  • HDFS 20500 – Introduction to Family Dynamics
  • DFS 30800 – Language and Literature in Early Childhood

Finish your required sociology courses and explore HDFS topics like special needs education.

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Sample Courses

  • SOC 35000 – Sociology of Family
  • SOC 38300 – Introduction To Research Methods in Sociology
  • HDFS 34000 – Teaching Very Young Children with Special Needs

Complete remaining HDFS requirements, including the practicum experience courses.

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Sample Courses

  • HDFS 35400 – Practicum In Early Childhood I
  • HDFS 45501 – Practicum In Early Childhood II
  • HDFS 45601 – Practicum With Infants And Toddlers


Our BA degrees in Human Development and Family Studies have the “Certification Family Life Educator” designation with the National Council on Family Relations. The Certified Family Life Educator designator enhances a student’s professionalism and resume.

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Graduates of this program have the ability to work with children aged 0-8 and their families by helping them through systems and enhancing their relationships. You’ll be qualified to obtain a Certified Family Life Educator credential.


In addition to the scholarships available to all PNW applicants, students seeking a banking concentration may also apply for program-specific scholarship awards, such as:

See All CHESS Scholarships

Beyond the Classroom

We encourage you to get involved in activities like:

  • HDFS Student Group
  • National Council on Family Relations

Career Paths

This degree prepares you for a number of roles in fields such as:

  • Child Care Program Director
  • Early Childhood Teacher
  • Early Intervention Specialist
  • Youth Worker


Our graduates often work in early childhood classrooms, child protective service organizations and special needs service agencies. Examples include:

  • 1st Kids, Inc.
  • Head start
  • Department of Child and Family Services
  • First Steps
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It’s nice to be in a more intimate, smaller setting. It makes me feel like I’m actually a student, not a number.

Mya Bell, Human Development and Family Studies, ‘24

Michelle Watkins

The faculty in the department took the time to build a rapport with students and displayed a genuine concern about the quality of education we received. I am proud to have chosen HDFS as a major.

Michelle Watkins, Human Development and Family Services

Meet the Faculty

Anne Edwards

Anne B. Edwards, Ph.D., CFLE

Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Coordinator

Anne Edwards is an associate professor of human development and family studies (HDFS) and the coordinator of the HDFS program. She is also the co-director of the Institute for Social Policy Research.

Patricia Rodda

Patricia Rodda, M.Ed

Lecturer Human Development and Family Studies

Patricia Rodda is a lecturer in the BHS Department and has worked there since 1992. She has worked at various child cares and was also a child life specialist at the U of C Children’s Hospital. She teaches courses in HDFS.

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