Human Development and Family Studies: Individual and Family Services

Bachelor of Arts

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Program Intro

The Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) major with a Individual and Family Services concentration is designed for an aspiring human services professional who wants to work with adolescents or adults (or in all-age settings) along with their families.

Department of Behavioral Sciences

HDFS courses prepare you for work with individuals and their families by focusing on cultural understanding, strategies for helping and securing the best possible resources for their needs. You’ll benefit from a program that emphasizes communication skills, critical thinking and professional ethics, as well as experiential learning and strong connections with community partners.

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.

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

Begin your studies with a first-year experience seminar for behavioral science students, as well as introductory sociology and human development courses.

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Sample Courses

  • BHS 10300 – First-Year Experience in Behavioral Sciences
  • HDFS 10100 – Working with Parents
  • HDFS 21000 – Introduction to Human Development
  • SOC 1000 – Introductory Sociology

Continue building your knowledge with courses that focus on stages of development 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
  • HDFS 34200 – Adolescence in Family and Community

Complete remaining HDFS requirements and any other required courses, as well as a field experience.

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Sample Courses

  • SOC 35000 – Sociology of Family
  • SOC 30600 – Methods In Human Services
  • SOC 31501 – Gender in Society

Extend your knowledge with specialized courses and hands-on field experiences.

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Sample Courses

  • SOC 30700 – Field Experience in Human Services
  • HDFS 41300 – Diversity in Families
  • HDFS 45200 – Family Resource Management


This interdisciplinary program blends the study of sociology with courses that focus on individuals and their relationships to the family unit. HDFS degrees prepare you to pursue a professional certification from the National Council on Family Relations.

A lion sculpture on PNW's campus PNW graduates at commencement


As a HDFS graduate, you’ll have a broad set of skills that will facilitate your professional work with families, helping them through systems and enhancing their relationships. You will be prepared to obtain a Certified Family Life Educator certification.


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:

  • Case Worker
  • Early Intervention Specialist
  • Special Needs Center Specialist
  • Developmental Specialist
  • Assisted Living Activity Director


Our graduates often work for family, elder and substance abuse treatment agencies. Examples include:

  • Head start
  • Mental Health America
  • First Steps
  • Northwest Indiana Community Action


Our BA degrees in Human Development and Family Studies feature the “Certificated Family Life Educator” designation from the National Council on Family Relations. This designation strengthens your resume and professional opportunities.

A PNW student stands outdoors

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

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.

A PNW Student in the Classroom

Take the Next Step

See how a PNW degree opens doors, from corporate boardrooms to non-profit leadership.

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