Kristie B. Chandler, Chair, Associate Professor
Clara E. Gerhardt, Professor
Jonathan C. Davis, Associate Professor
Undergraduate Programs and Requirements
Human Development and Family Science Major, B.A.
Human Development and Family Science Major with Child Development Education Concentration, B.A.
Human Development and Family Science Major with Child Life Concentration, B.A.
Human Development and Family Science Major with Gerontology Concentration, B.A.
Human Development and Family Science Minor
Human development and family life education is the study of how individuals grow and develop across the life cycle-particularly in the context of personal, marital, and family relationships. Human development and family life education courses expose students to both practical and theoretical content in areas such as dating and relationship formation, marital relationships, human sexuality, parenting, families and society, lifespan development, gender roles, and multicultural perspectives. The philosophy and broad principles required to plan, implement, and evaluate educational programs designed to optimize family functioning, represent some of the specialized skills of the Family Life Educator.
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. It studies family dynamics from a systemic, developmental framework. The societal issues confronting families, including family law and family economics, are examined. The theories and research which attempt to explain and predict family functioning from an individual and societal perspective are emphasized.
Enriching the lives of families through education, service and advocacy.
The human development and family science major recognizes the crucial role of families in society. The human development and family science curriculum focuses on personal relationships and their connection to and impact on human living and development. 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).
The Department of Human Development and Family Life Education (HDFE) offers a bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree in human development and family science.
While not a requirement for a human development and family science degree, 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, or gerontology, or the 3+3+ law 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.
Child Development Education Concentration
This concentration focuses on the development and education of young children from infancy through Pre-K. Students in this concentration receive education and experience in order to prepare them for work in early childhood settings as a teacher and/or administrator. Special emphasis is given to the importance of family involvement during this most crucial time of development. This concentration is a collaboration between the Department of Human Development and Family Life Education and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
Child Life Concentration
This concentration may interest students who have a desire to work in a medical setting to provide emotional support and coping strategies for children and their families facing short and long-term hospital and other health care related issues. Upon completion of this concentration, students will submit their coursework for review to the Child Life Council, as well as pass a certification exam to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. For more information regarding certification, please visit www.childlife.org.
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 any undergraduate major. 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.
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..
Samford University focuses on the following competencies in its educational approach: written, oral, quantitative, and information literacies. Students who complete a human development and family science degree:
- Have an understanding of an individual’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual development from birth through adulthood and how that individual development impacts the family unit.
- Have an understanding of family dynamics from a systemic, developmental framework.
- Have an understanding of the societal issues confronting families including family law and family economics.
- Have an understanding of the philosophy and broad principles required to plan, implement, and evaluate educational programs designed to optimize family functioning.
- Have an understanding of the theories and research which attempt to explain and predict family functioning from a micro (individual) and macro (societal) level perspective.
- Have completed an internship in a child and/or family social/community agency.
- Have received conditional approval as Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs) recognized through the National Council on Family Relations.
University Core Curriculum and General Education Requirements
See University Core Curriculum and General Education Requirements in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences introductory pages for a list of required courses. General Education Requirements are detailed in the individual degree tables, with some exceptions. In those cases where a requirement is not specified, consult the University Core Curriculum and General Education Requirements and the Physical Activity Program for a list of applicable courses.
CoursesHuman Development and Family Life Education
NOTE: Beginning Spring 2014, all courses formerly designated with the FAMS prefix now have the HDFE prefix. Old course numbers are noted in parentheses at the end of each course description.