Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) focuses on helping children, families, and relationships thrive. Our students and faculty work from a lifespan ecological perspective on development and families, recognizing and supporting the many forms of diversity in individuals, families, developmental pathways, and contexts. We focus on discovering and applying new knowledge to strengthen individuals, families, relationships, and communities, and on preparing the next generation of professionals to serve and lead.

Human Development and Family Studies’ (HDFS) students seek advanced employment or leadership positions in occupations serving children, adults, and families, or admission to PhD programs. All students complete coursework in lifespan human development, family science, research methods, statistics, and select additional courses aligned with their interest and career goals. Faculty research laboratories, The Children’s Program, and collaborations with various agencies serving children and families across the state of Alabama provide opportunities for research and experiential learning.


Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) provides graduate students with high quality training in the theory, skills, and professional identity essential to competent practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. Students graduate equipped to treat a wide variety of individual, couple, and family mental health issues with diverse populations.

Child Life (CL) is for students who wish to pursue the healthcare career of a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). Specialists support children and their families in the healthcare setting by providing education about diagnoses, support through procedures, and by promoting development. Through personalized advising and a flexible curriculum, the program accommodates students trained in other areas who wish to pursue a career in Child Life, as well as Child Life Specialists seeking advanced training.