2017-2018 Samford University Catalog 
    Jun 18, 2024  
2017-2018 Samford University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Human Development and Family Life Education

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Kristie B. Chandler, Chair, Associate Professor
Jonathan C. Davis, Professor
Clara E. Gerhardt, Professor
Celeste H. Hill, Assistant Professor

Undergraduate Programs and Requirements

Human Development & Family Science Major (B.A.) 
Human Development & Family Science Major w/a Concentration in Child Development Education (B.A.) 
Human Development & Family Science Major w/a Concentration in Child Life (B.A.) 
Human Development & Family Science Major w/ a Concentration in Gerontology (B.A.)  

Human Development & Family Science Minor  


Accelerated Programs

3+3 Law Program (B.A. in HDFE/J.D.)
Fast Track Master of Social Work Program (B.A. in HDFE/M.S.W.)

Human development and family science is an interdisciplinary field of study which applies knowledge and research about individuals and families in a changing world. This discipline concerns the study of an individual’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and spiritual development from birth through adulthood and how that individual development impacts the family unit.

Students gain the knowledge and service-learning experience required to plan, implement, and evaluate educational programs and services designed to optimize family functioning within the larger society. Courses expose students to both the research and theory supporting the ten content areas required to become a certified family life educator through the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). The content areas include: families and individuals in societal contexts, internal dynamics of families, human growth and development across the lifespan, human sexuality, interpersonal relationships, family resource management, parent education and guidance, family law and public policy, professional ethics and practice, and family life education methodology.

Mission Statement

Enriching the lives of families through education, service and advocacy.


Since 1999 the human development and family science curriculum has met the requirements for the Provisional Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) designation awarded by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR; www.ncfr.org).

Degree Programs*

The Department of Human Development and Family Life Education (HDFE) offers a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree in human development and family science.

Some students may choose to specialize in one of the pre-established concentrations (see below for further details about these concentrations) in child development education, child life specialist, gerontology, the 3+3+ law program, or the fast-track master of social work program, or they may wish to declare a minor in one of the numerous possibilities throughout the academic programs available at Samford.

The department also offers a minor in human development and family science.


*During your first semester as a major or minor, you must obtain and submit your ABI and FBI fingerprint and background check.

Child Development Education Concentration

This concentration focuses on the development and education of young children from infancy through preschool. Students in this concentration receive education and experience which prepares them for work in early childhood settings as a preschool teacher and/or administrator. Special emphasis is given to the importance of family involvement during this most crucial time of development.

Child Life Concentration

This concentration may interest students who desire to work in a medical setting to provide emotional support and coping strategies for children and their families facing short and long-term hospitalization and other health care related issues. Upon completion of this concentration, students must submit their coursework for review to the Child Life Council, as well as pass a certification exam to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. Extensive clinical hours, including a 600-hour internship experience, is also required by the Child Life Council. Completion of the coursework does not guarantee certification. For more information regarding certification, please visit www.childlife.org.

Gerontology Concentration

Due to the rapid growth of the aging population, this concentration prepares students to provide services and research for those in the later stages of the lifespan. Special emphasis is placed upon how aging affects the individual as well as the family system. Caregiving is an important service that families provide for their loved ones as well to the larger society. Professionals with a gerontology background can help individuals and their families through the successful transition required during this stage of life.

3+3 Law and Family Science Program

For students interested in family law, policy, or advocacy, the 3 + 3 law program combined with a degree in human development and family science is ideal for students interested in adoption, divorce, foster care, intimate partner violence and other areas impacting the well-being of children and families.

Samford University and the Cumberland School of Law have created an accelerated law degree program which permits a Samford student who has completed three-fourths of the work acceptable for a bachelor’s degree to be admitted to the law school. After successful completion of the first year of classes at Cumberland, the student will be awarded a bachelor’s degree in his/her undergraduate major. This program is available to Samford students from several undergraduate majors. However, the human development and family science degree works particularly well for those interested in family law and policy issues. This program requires acceptance into Cumberland Law School following the normal application process, and careful advisement and documentation in order to ensure the completion of the bachelor’s degree. Please consult your academic advisor for additional details regarding this program.

Fast Track Master of Social Work and Family Science Program

Human development and family science majors are eligible to participate in a fast track option that allows students to graduate with a bachelor of arts degree inhuman development and family science and a master of social work (M.S.W.) after just five years of study. The first three years are dedicated to completion of all required undergraduate courses. Students then enroll in M.S.W. courses during their senior year of undergraduate studies. The M.S.W. courses they complete during that year also satisfy general and directed undergraduate elective requrements, allowing them to graduate with a bachelor’s degree after four years of study. A final year of graduate coursework leads to completion of the M.S.W. Participation in this program requires careful advisement and scheduling, as well as permission of both the undergraduate department chair and the chair of the Department of Social Work.

Career Options

Many human development and family science majors are attracted to job opportunities available through non-profit and not-for-profit organizations. The program is designed to prepare students for professional careers in the helping professions, in human service agencies, the non-profit and not-for-profit sectors, or for graduate school and research. Career options include counseling, marriage and family therapy, family life education, parenting education, helping professions, elder care services, family and social services, child development, youth ministry, family policy, community advocacy, and education.

While human development and family science is a solid foundation for a career in the helping professions, a master’s degree or higher may be required to practice and be employed at a competitive level. A significant portion of human development and family science majors plan to attend a master’s degree program..

General Education: University Core Curriculum and Distribution Requirements

General Education Distribution Requirements are noted in the individual degree tables. In those cases where a requirement is not specified, see General Education Overview  in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences introductory pages for a list of required and applicable courses.





      Human Development & Family Life Education

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